Archive | April, 2012

My Little Poet/Poem Has Legs!

13 Apr

Ah, the magic of the Interwebz!  As mentioned in the previous post, Edwin Torres il-miglior-fabbro’d “This Poem” and made it way better.  Then we talked about it on Harriet, the Poetry Foundation’s blog:  http://www.poetryfoundation.org/harriet/2012/04/poem-poet-a-talk-with-sharon-mesmer/#.T4hAE3_QDZI.facebook.

And speaking of interviews, totally rockin’ funny lady poet Jennifer Knox interviewed me for her Best American Poetry blog series on totally rockin’ funny lady poets: http://blog.bestamericanpoetry.com/the_best_american_poetry/2012/04/funny-lady-3-swedishly-massaging-kung-fu-pandas-doink-doink-with-sharon-mesmer.html

 

All glory to the long fascinating conversation in time that is poetry!

 

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This Poet/This Poem

10 Apr

I wrote a poem called “This Poem” over the weekend and posted it to the flarf list yesterday.  Discussion ensued about other poems entitled “This Poem,” and fellow flarfista Adeena Karasick mentioned that her new poetry collection, from Talon Books, is called This Poem.  Obviously, something very “this poem” is in the air.   What I didn’t mention to the list is that “this poem” is actually about “this poet” — I thought I had cleverly embedded that “I” (per the rules and regs of [whatever remains of the already half-life of] my PoMo/LangPo leanings) in the poem’s general density.  Flarf list confrere Edwin Torres remade the poem in flarf list fashion, replacing all the “this poem” phrases with “this poet” … and then the poem really shone!  Edwin: my personal il miglior fab-bro!  His re-fabbing brought up a good question, too, about the necessity of embedding that “I” (at least in this particular poem, and maybe even on the bigger grid of my life): why?  There was a gender(ed) decision there, I think.   It’s something for me to cogitate/essay forth about.   Soon.  But for now, here are both versions of the poem.

 

N.B.: The original idea for the questions in the piece came from Chris Lofting’s writings on the I Ching, specifically his “Categories of Meditation: the I Ching as an example of generic language formation” (pdf) and his book, The Emotional I Ching. 

 

* * *

 

 

This Poet  — for Edwin Torres

 

 

 

What visible corporeal form does this poet present?

In what nuances does she come “dressed”?

How does she reveal her basic nature and purpose?

Does she suppose a hidden half-life?

From what mud has she emerged?

How does she “sprout”?

 

 

Does this poet satisfactorily “start”?

Does she successfully express “commence”?

Does she stand up without weakness to say her piece

ignoring criticisms or challenges to her origin story?

Does she demonstrate the ability to successfully streamline

the long history of prosody into the trinketed figure of a golden human

with cat hands?

 

 

What are the unfortunate consequences, inevitable entanglements

that this poet successfully manages to avoid?

Does she teach social skills, the patience for opportunity?

How does she compromise/express uniformity, or at least meet halfway

the need for the establishment of such gateways?

Does she successfully compete in free-market fashion

while keeping the engine of her competition hidden?

 

 

Does she clearly suggest the presence of a body crown

and then provide specific guidances about how to ground,

frame, and then leverage that body crown for greater gains?

Can she adequately assess, then communicate —

in normative syntax, with a clear purview —

the purpose and worth of her own (markedly obvious) body crown?

And can she successfully balance that crown against the pure gold

of tradition, spun from air?

 

 

Does she make small gains that can be noticed, tracked?

Can she provide, without fanfare, and little preparation,

her own humble supper?

Does she traverse her thorny path carefully, gracefully, successfully,

and, while navigating, does she maintain balance and harmony

in the midst of sudden, irreversible, even tragic,

changes to her landscape ?

 

 

Can this poet’s objects — juxtaposed with one another

yet maintaining a unified field — neutralise expected attacks

from hostile, outside sources, on the poet’s core beliefs?

Do those objects express empathy with readers both hostile to

and in sync with her basic aims?

Does she insult, consciously or unconsciously, the like-minded?

 

 

Does she make judicious choices regarding density,

deploying all “ghost words” cleverly from the center?

Does her center pragmatically oversee all “ghost word operations,”

successfully managing any antithetical stimuli?

Do these stimuli push the poet’s ideology forward effectively,

without giving offense?

Does her ideology allow words to accrue (naturally or unnaturally?)

to actual facts?

 

 

Does this poet manage to find, express, and celebrate a faith?

And if so, what is that faith?

Can the faith be expressed succinctly, gracefully in dependable,

forward-moving time?

Or is it a “faith” counter to the essential principles of forward-moving time?

Does the “faith” question chronos? Elevate kairos?

If no, or if so, how does it correct this corruption?

Indeed, does it even successfully express this kind of dichotomy

as a corruption?

 

 

Is this poet “successful”?

Does she express “value”?

Does she acquiesce sufficiently to the low,

defer appropriately to the high?

Maintain cognizance of her station?

Does she actively elicit admiration,

or passively attract by innuendo, association?

Does she “housekeep” properly,

clearing chaff before incorporating wheat?

Are those fragrant boughs on her threshold?

Do those boughs “add value”?

 

 

Does the poet engage in a non-located, disembodied spiritual ethos,

providing little or no solutions to our lives’ demands?

Is this her way of expressing — indeed experiencing —

states of mind that are exceedingly seductive, even addictive?

Is this poet “addicted”?

And, if so, is she successfully “addicted”?

 

 

Will this poet move politely beyond what is required?

Or will she “showboat?” “crow?” “grandstand?” “badger?” “preen”?

Can she express her excess per established mainstream conventions?

If no, how might she ultimately assert containment/control?

And will she add normative, recognizable value to that control?

 

 

Does this poet “woo” you with a restrained enticement?

Or does she draw you in, potential compeer, by enticing with

a practiced, crafted insouciance?

Is this poet lying to/using/exploiting you?

Is she asking too much of her interlocutor, her responder?

Or is her interlocutor/responder projecting onto the poet

personal issues not contained in, or addressed by, the poet,

but rather issues related to, for example, a fraught relationship

with a needy parent?

 

 

Does this poet bring something — anything — into the light?

And is this light a fair trope that can be described, pointed to, aimed at?

Would you say that the phrase “Omni quae sunt, lumina sunt”

is a valid assessment of the light’s role vis a vis the poet?

Does the poet know how to protect this light if the light feels

it lies unprotected as it has not yet come into its time?

Does the light exit the precincts of the poet insulted?

Why has the poet violated the light’s role?

Does the poet believe that insulting her (admittedly) chosen, fair trope of light

adds normative, recognizable value?

Can these missteps — if indeed they be missteps —

be successfully corrected?

 

 

Does this poet have the ability to gracefully deploy rigid structure

as a form of surface tension release?

Can she “mirror” or effectively deal with opposition?

Does she obstruct, go against, stand up to, the general flow?

What is her position with regard to the flow?

(And the flow’s position regarding the poet?)

Is there a stand-off?

Is the stand-off obstinate?  Flawed?

Or a necessary enhancement of value?

Can the stand-off be pressed upon to yield?

Or should this poet ultimately be forced to release the stand-off

through a faux-relaxed structure plan, attainable within, say,

three or four stanzaic elements?

And can the stand-off be asked to track changes

in the poet’s will-to-change?

Is the will-to-change too much to expect of this poet?

Does this poet exhibit a will-to-change?

 

 

Will this poet ever achieve normative, recognizable value?

Will she someday “seed” her meanings successfully?

Is she fated to always become overly entangled with something/someone?

Can she learn to remain integrated within her own context,

either by the subtle hand of craftmanship

or strenous slave-master boundary effort?

 

 

Is the life of this poet already delimited?

From where does she get her nutrition?

How does she express conversion from the raw to the cooked,

vulgar to sacrosanct?

Has she ever genuflected, bestowed roses?

 

 

How does this poet express discernment, gradual development, maturity?

Has she expended her energy too soon?

Is her natural exuberance completely shot?

What happened to her original radiance, her abundance overflowing?

 

 

Did this poet express her goals too intensely?

Did this poet standardise?

Did this poet fail to express empathy?

Did she not successfully protect a soft core by fronting a hard exterior?

Has this poet “failed”?

 

 

Did this poet ever, at any point, “get it right?”

And if she does, does she do so by engaging in focused, framed self-sabotage,

rejecting the work of making things clear,

eschewing her (purported) goal of revealing the roots of foolishness

by gently dispeling the cloud of unknowing?

Despite her flaws, her wrongs, her sins against convention and taste,

can she still cultivate a reader and become, ultimately,

through a “Pontius Pilate’s mosquito” sort of notoriety, influential?

 

 

Is the value of this poet simply that she enables engagement?

That she demonstrates the capacity to be present and open,

not grasping at or rejecting either presence or the transcendence of presence,

and thus her openness remains (and retains) a natural adjectival sublime?

 

 

Should this poet continue to strive for success

despite her aggressive actions against agency,

her obsessive reanimations of highly personal pied moments,

the consistent shifting of her attentions away

from an immediately visible, comprehensible form

to a postponed instress of questionabily pleasurable shock?

Should she blame herself for her failure to cause a bear to appear,

her lack of a proper dog?

 

 

* * *

 

 

This Poem — original version

 

 

 

What visible corporeal form does this poem present?

In what nuances does it come “dressed”?

How does it reveal its basic nature and purpose?

Does it suppose a hidden half-life?

From what mud has it emerged?

How does it “sprout”?

 

 

Does this poem satisfactorily “start”?

Does it successfully express “commence”?

Does it stand up without weakness to say its piece

ignoring criticisms or challenges to its origin story?

Does it demonstrate the ability to succesfully streamline

the long history of prosody into the trinketed figure of a golden cat

with human hands?

 

 

What are the unfortunate consequences, inevitable entanglements

that this poem successfully manages to avoid?

Does it teach social skills, the patience for opportunity?

How does it compromise/express uniformity, or at least meet halfway

the need for the establishment of such gateways?

Does it successfully compete in free-market fashion

while keeping the engine of its competition hidden?

 

 

Does it clearly suggest the presence of a body crown

and then provide specific guidances about how to ground,

frame, and then leverage the body crown for greater gains?

Can it adequately assess, then communicate —

in normative syntax, with a clear purview —

the purpose and worth of its own (markedly obvious) body crown?

And can it successfully balance that crown against the pure gold

of tradition, spun from air?

 

 

Does it make small gains that can be noticed, tracked?

Can it provide, without fanfare, and little preparation,

its own humble supper?

Does it traverse its thorny path carefully, gracefully, successfully,

and, while navigating, does it maintain balance and harmony

in the midst of sudden, irreversible, even tragic,

changes to the  landscape ?

 

 

Can this poem’s objects — juxtaposed with one another

yet maintaining a unified field — neutralise expected attacks

from hostile, outside sources, on the poem’s core beliefs?

Do those objects express empathy with readers both hostile to

and in sync with its basic aims?

Does it insult, consciously or unconsciously, the like-minded?

 

 

Does it make judicious choices regarding density,

deploying all “ghost words” cleverly from the center?

Does the center pragmatically oversee all “ghost word operations,”

successfully managing any antithetical stimuli?

Do these stimuli push the poem’s ideology forward effectively,

without giving offense?

Does the ideology allow words to accrue (naturally or unnaturally?)

to actual facts?

 

 

Does this poem manage to find, express, and celebrate a faith?

And if so, what is that faith?

Can the faith be expressed succinctly, gracefully in dependable,

forward-moving time?

Or is it a “faith” counter to the essential principles of forward-moving time?

Does it question chronos? Elevate kairos?

If no, or if so, how does it correct this corruption?

Indeed, does it even successfully express this kind of dichotomy

as a corruption?

 

 

Is this poem “successful”?

Does it express value?

Does it acquiesce sufficiently to the low,

defer appropriately to the high?

Maintain cognizance of its station?

Does it actively elicit admiration,

or passively attract by innuendo, association?

Does it “housekeep” properly,

clearing chaff before incorporating wheat?

Are those fragrant boughs on its threshold?

Do those boughs “add value”?

 

 

Does the poem engage in a non-located, disembodied spiritual ethos,

providing little or no solutions to our lives’ demands?

Is this its way of expressing — indeed experiencing —

states of mind that are exceedingly seductive, even addictive?

Is this poem “addicted”?

And, if so, is it successfully “addicted”?

 

 

Will this poem move politely beyond what is required?

Or will it “showboat?” “crow?” “grandstand?” “badger?” “preen”?

Can it express its excess per established mainstream conventions?

If no, how might it ultimately assert containment/control?

And will it add normative, recognizable value to that control?

 

 

Does this poem “woo” you with a restrained enticement?

Or does it draw you in, potential compeer, by enticing with

a practiced, crafted insouciance?

Is this poem lying to/using/exploiting you?

Is it asking too much of its interlocutor, its responder?

Or is the interlocutor/responder projecting onto the poem

personal issues not contained in, or addressed by, the poem,

but rather issues related to, for example, a fraught relationship

with a needy parent?

 

 

Does this poem bring something — anything — into the light?

And is this light a fair trope that can be described, pointed to, aimed at?

Would you say that the phrase “Omni quae sunt, lumina sunt”

is a valid assessment of the light’s role vis a vis the poem?

Does the poem know how to protect this light if the light feels

it lies unprotected as it has not yet come into its time?

Does the light exit the precincts of the poem insulted?

Why has the poem violated the light’s role?

Does the poem believe that insulting its (admittedly) chosen, fair trope of light

adds normative, recognizable value?

Can these missteps — if indeed they be missteps —

be successfully corrected?

 

Does this poem have the ability to gracefully deploy rigid structure

as a form of surface tension release?

Can it “mirror” or effectively deal with opposition?

Does obstruct, go against, stand up to, the general flow?

What is its position with regard to the flow?

(And the flow’s position regarding the poem?)

Is there a stand-off?

Is the stand-off obstinate?  Flawed?

Or a necessary enhancement of value?

Can the stand-off be pressed-upon to yield?

Or should this poem ultimately be forced to express release to the stand-off

through a faux-relaxed structure plan, attainable within, say,

three or four stanzaic elements?

And can the stand-off be asked to track changes

in the poem’s will-to-change?

Is the will-to-change too much to expect of this poem?

Does the poem exhibit a will-to-change?

 

 

Will this poem ever achieve normative, recognizable value?

Will it someday “seed” its meanings successfully?

Is it fated to always become overly entangled with something/someone?

Can it learn to remain integrated within its own context,

either by the subtle hand of craftmanship

or strenous slave-master boundary effort?

 

 

Is the life of this poem already delimited?

From where does it get its nutrition?

How does it express conversion from the raw to the cooked,

from vulgar to sacrosanct?

Has it ever genuflected, bestowed roses?

 

 

How does this poem express discernment, gradual development, maturity?

Has it expended its energy too soon?

Is its natural exuberance completely shot?

What happened to its original radiance, its abundance overflowing ?

 

 

Did this the poem express its goals too intensely?

Did it standardise?

Fail to express empathy?

Did it not yield its soft core by fronting a hard exterior?

Has it “failed”?

 

 

Did this poem ever, at any point, “get it right?”

And if it did, did it do so by engaging in focused, framed self-sabotage,

rejecting the work of making things clear,

eschewing its (purported) goal of revealing the roots of foolishness

by gently dispeling the cloud of unknowing?

Despite its flaws, its wrongs, its sins against convention and taste,

can it still cultivate a reader and become, ultimately,

through a “Pontius Pilate’s mosquito” sort of notoriety, influential?

 

 

Is the value of this poem simply that it enables engagement?

That it demonstrates the capacity to be present and open,

not grasping at or rejecting either presence or the transcendence of presence,

and thus its openness remains (and retains) a natural adjectival sublime?

 

 

Should this poem continue to strive for success

despite its aggressive actions against agency,

its obsessive reanimations of highly personal pied moments,

the consistent shifting of its attentions away

from an immediately visible, comprehensible form

to a postponed instress of questionabily pleasurable shock?

Should it blame itself for its failure to cause a bear to appear,

its lack of a proper dog?