Friday, August 17, 2012

How it Happens

A poetry workshop taught by a friend sounded interesting so I signed up. There were writing exercises that were really hard, but it was a class where you could actually learn how to write a poem, rather than just work on the stuff you were already doing. In the last exercise we were to take from at least three different other artistic media (painting, song, sculpture, story, dance, film, etc.) and incorporate them into a poem that we would write. So I took these:

I sit here thinking I should write in dread of stepping outside the room to find nothing exists.

--David Ignatow

"Dance me to the end of love....."

--Leonard Cohen, "I'm Your Man"

"No names! names!"

---"Last Tango in Paris"

"The crib notes we sneak through time are written in disappearing ink."
--Andre Aciman, Alibis: Essays on Elsewhere

We were about to do our final dance.
It involved leaning down, and taking a mouthful of dirt.

I looked at you. You had already begun.

And you were crying.

--Bruce Bennett, "The Final Dance", from Straw into Gold

In the meantime I was doing one of the previous exercises (in which we describe in NON-POETIC prose a thing or two, and then from that take words and make them into a poem. And then the teacher collects a copy of each poem and, anonymously, each student revises it to be given back to the original writer at the next session) with a friend via e.mail. Well, I had spent so much time on the exercise with the friend that I took the revised-by-me poem, which by that time was pretty much all mine, and used it for the exercise in taking from other artists, and turned out a poem called "Dancing for Sleep". And if you would like to see it, I'll send it to you.

"If you can play it, it ain't stealin' " (Dizzy Gillespie)


Blogger JS said...

I want to see it. And I think the Cohen line is "Dance me to the end of love..."

11:10 AM  
Blogger Lucy said...

Yes please. You know where I am.

1:56 PM  
Blogger James said...

Those are beautiful quotes. I just noticed the title "Dance me to the End of Love" yesterday, when searching for stuff by the Klezmer Conservatory Band, and I saw it was also done by Leonard Cohen. I think it's a traditional Yiddish song.

11:03 AM  

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