Wednesday, October 28, 2009

How are those poetry exercises coming?

I realize that I haven't done a borrring book post in awhile, so I thought that I'd share with all of you [aka Enrico who will probz be the only peep to read this] a great read I just finished up last week. It's called The Anthologist and it's written by Nicholson Baker. It's about this dude who is a writer-blocked poet who's been hired to compile an anthology of poetry that highlights the importance of rhyme in writing. He also needs to compose the introduction to the book but has mad trubz doing so. The entire book is basically about him trying to get this introduction written, but due to a number of external and internal problemaz, he just can't do it. He dropz all sortz of fun poetry factz and even mentions this one poet in general, Paul Muldoon who lives in Princeton and actually has had the honor of being served by moi when he came into my restaurant last year. Lucky him!

Anywayz, as I do while reading all mah bookz, I ripped pieces of my bookmark [read as: scrap piece of posterboard I found on the floor of the bus I take to Nueva Nueva] and tagged the pagez with passages I found especially interesting. Being that I myself am a (struggling) poet [yes, I actually did graduate college with a BA in English], I was able to especially relate to some partz. A lot of those "A-HA!" momentz took place and you gotza love shit like that when it happens.

"...poetry is worth thinking about- from time to time. Not all the time. Sometimes it's a much better idea to think about other things."

Hellz yeah! I've talked about this with E. Copterz and mi otra amiga de poemaz, Julia many times. When someone commitz demselves to a creative expression of some kind, there is this constant nagging at your heart to perpetually be working on it. In my college classes, my poetry professor told us that we should dedicate two horaz each day to reading and writing poetry, but in all honesty, I'm lucky if I get that in a week. Tankfully Mr. Barker's narrator seems to be of the believe that one must never must bombard themselves with their art if they are unwilling to participate in it. Every poem I've forced mahself to write always ended up reeking of cow manure. Those I've written on my own accord out of mah own emotions only reek a little of bird vomit. IMPROVEMENT!

"What does it mean to be a great poet? It means that you wrote one or two great poems. Or great parts of poems. That's all it means."

Now dis is sumfing I completely agree with and also sumfing that every writing professor I've ever had has drilled into my noggin. Depressing as it may be, a writer is said to be lucky to write a three-page poem and be able to find one or two [MAX] linez worth keeping. Revision is the key to any good writing. I would come up with one of those percentile statements about how editing is 80% of writing blah blah blah...but I'm not a snoozefest text book. I am also such a wimp when it comez to revising. Like, my poemaz are my babies and to cut them to pieces seems a little macabre. But sometimes cutting up my infant child is the only when it can grow up to be a supa awesome cyber-infant. [what am I talking about?]

"A lifetime of fretting over pieces of paper and this is what you've got. And yet it's worth it, isn't it?"

For serial. I spend so much time just daydreaming up lines and ideaz that sometimes I berate mahself for "wasting my time" with such uncompensating notions. I start to feel that I could be doing sumfing more productive during those few hourz a week than writing/thinking up poems that will probably never lead to anything fruitful or rewarding. But then I finish a poem that I actually feel slightly proud of and it suddenly makes it feel all worth it. Cliche, cliche, cliche. But true, true, true.

"No wonder they call it bursting. It's a sudden outflipping of the lips and an explosion of liquid from behind the eyelids. Everything that's inside is suddenly coming out. It's really a physical event. You're literally shaking with sobs. Fortunately it didn't last too long."

This line actually has nuffin' to do with the narrator's poetic distractions, but instead a mental breakdown he has during the story. I just put it cuz it's kind of how I feel a lot of the time lately. Stress central and my mind never chutz uh! It's like, I'll be having a normal kinda day and den all of a sudden my head will fill up wiff dem teardropz [on my guitar?] and I'll crumble apart for prox an hour or so. Then I'll pass out and feel suddenly quite better. It's an interesting little quirk of mine and I don't tink a healthy one, but hell, to each his own.

Now, am I famous writer yet?!? UGGG! Tired of waiting!!!


hoteltuesday said...

Didn't last too long?! I thought explosions of liquid behind the eyelids happened ALL DAY EVERY DAY. Or is that just MY vida?

Omgz I'm so glad I learned to edit my poemz. Remember when I was a freshman and was like "Editing is lame!" And you were thinking, "wtf... what an amateur," but instead you said you liked my ONE line. LULZ.

EW! That green piece of posterboard that has found its way into MY book (on the way to Blogger Meet-Up 09) was from the dirty bus? Gross.

dcm said...

I will so toootally comment all up in dis bitch. As a struggling poet myself (just sent some stuff off to Appalachian Review...fat chance o' that going well) I identified with all of these quotes. And especially what you said about editing! I know this is something I need to get better with, as I rarely do more than four or so drafts, and it's so difficult to slice things that I feel so deeply. I wish I were an English major, but instead I'm learning how to revive a dying labor movement (again, fat chance). But next semester I'm taking a poetry writing class with Alice Fulton, and since it's my last semester I don't feel guilty at all about it.

Chris D. said...

I got all excited when I saw your tweet about a "poetry post". I thought that we were finally going to be able to read some of your poems. Alas it was just a review of a book about poetry and didn't include any of your poems. :(

It sounds like an interesting book. When I used to try to write poetry I found that could come up with a few good lines. Unfortunately I usually had trouble coming up with enough decent lines to accompany those few good lines. I didn't actually write very many "complete" poems. However I found the process to be of meditative value. I would like to get back to that eventually.

Consider sharing some of your poetry with your blog readers. Enrico had told me what I great poet you are. I would love to be able to read some of your work one day.

dcm said...

I second that motion. I'll show you mine if you show me yours! (giggle away, children)

that's J-O-S-H said...

E. Copterz: Oh...well I never finished my statement. I'll feel better for prox two minutes before listening to "Thinking of You" and then comfortably letting mahself slide back into my sadness.

DCM: I foolishly sent some poemaz to the New Yorker. Durhz I was rejected. I bought this book called "The Poet's Market" that outlines every single poetry magazine/publication around. I have yet to really research it though and make a list of prospective places to send my shit. I still feel like I have a lot of growing to do before I start sending my shit out there to the unforgiving masses.

Chris: I feel apprehensive about posting my poetry on the blog. I feel like they are two separate entitiez of me that wouldn't mix well together. AKA my blog is goofy & crude whereas my poemaz are mad serial & constructed. We're also told in college that posting your poetry online, even on your own site can often times void it from publication in any sort of magazine/book/anthology. Maybe Enrico and I can host a Puntabulous Poetry Reading!

David said...

As someone who has been privileged to read a few of your poems I can vouch for their quality and can say with full authority that there is nary a whiff of bird vomit in any of them.

It's easy in academia to devote two hours daily to writing, but your weekly average is commendable considering your busy schedule.

A puntabupoetry reading would be interesting but we'd need to serve a lot of wine. ;-)

Chris D. said...

Wow, serious poems! Now I want to read theme even more. I would very much like to see your more serious side one day.

I think a poetry reading would be a really great idea! If you let me know about any poetry readings you have planned, in advance, I will go if I am free.

Michelle M. said...

I would love to read your poems as well. You are obviously sensitive and brilliant, so keep plugging away. I'm not good at giving pep talks at 3 in the morning, so "Rah rah" and all that.

Tam said...

I'm not a poet nor do I really get most of it, but for some people that creative need is just there. I know a few authors who've been published and they just need to get that stuff in their head out there. For us non-creative types I don't really get it because I've never felt it. And rejection sucks hardcore but every published author of anything goes through it. Maybe that's why I'm not an author, can't handle rejection.

Jere Keys said...

I will not be shamed into reading and commenting on this blog.

I gave up on being a poet after one class in college when I realized it would require work. Work I didn't find myself terribly interested in doing. Like spending lots of time marketing myself, sending out lots and lots of submissions, blah blah. Editing if fun, though, and I'm a lot better at it after getting paid to edit other people's work.

Polt said...

I really don't like poetry in general. However, getting to read or hear some of your poems would be fascinating. On the blog and in person you're so...well non-stop. But I can tell there's more to you than just that. A deeper Sassy josh that you don't reveal too often, if at all. And I'm pretty sure that's the person that would show up in your poetry.

I've tried to write poetry, but I just can't. Unless I'm very depressed, and then I can churn out the most angst-ridden, horrendous, bird-vomity tripe you've ever imagined. It's best I just listen to people who know how to write poetry and not try to do it myself.


hoteltuesday said...

I feel so privileged... all these peepz wanna read your poems and I've read so many of them!
AND I read your poem in The Best Poetry Anthology 2008 (aka, The Siren).

Julia said...

i've been feeling the poetry burn lately. thanksgiving can't come soon enough.. i don't like reading my stuff to people here. i hope you've found more time in your schedule to write some new stuff to share!

Ray Avito said...

The third quote struck me because it's true for all different kinds of creative stuff. You get that feeling when you create something that falls at least somewhere close to the mark of what you were going for and you're kind of like, "Yeah."

Craig said...

Your reading material is all smart and shit. Mine has zombies and lasers. Kaboom! Bang! Zoom! Weeeeee!

john said...

Though not a poet or writer for that matter, I do identify with having an artistic nature. For me, art isn't an interest, it is a need. I *have* to do it. If I go too long without making something or trying something, I actually physically crave it and have to at least put pencil to paper to satisfy the need.

One major difference for me is I have no desire to be famous or be known for my art. I like to show my art to people and I do like to share discussions of the process with other artists (used inclusively of writers as well as visual artists) but I have no desire to have fame or make a living with my art.

that's J-O-S-H said...

David: Okay...maybe not bird vomit...but for def def defferz there is a scent or two of chipmunk urine.

Chris D.: Right? Mah life doesn't completely revolve around crude statementz and terrible mispellingz.

Michelle: I know you alwayz believed in me.::delicate teary eyez::

Tam: Rejection suxxxorz a lot, but if I get rejected, then I get sad, which thus leadz to poetry-writing which then leadz to more rejection until I eventually [read as: hopefully...please Gawd] leadz to getting published when I'm 46.

Poltergeizt:'re making me blush and for the first time it's not because I feel like you're coming on to me.

E. Copterz: Did you know that one year I won Best Poem in the Lion's Eye (I tink...) and I was awarded a free movie coupon at AMC! Benefitz, wut wut!

Julia: Dudette, I really need to get my writing bone back to da grindstone. Been going through some bit of a drought. I have 6 poemz I've been slowly editing that you've heard before, but I wrote in mah blog, editing is more than half the battle.

Ray Avito: It's difficult, especially now that I am out of college and don't have classmatez or professors to guide my azz around the writing/revision process. I've had to learn how to become my own disciplined critic.

Craig: What about Zonk! Ka-Pow! Biff! Flush?!?!!?

John: "If I go too long without making something or trying something, I actually physically crave it and have to at least put pencil to paper to satisfy the need." I hear that hardxxxcore! I start to feel guilty and disgusted wiff myself if I go too long without working on my poetry. I have dreamz of getting mah own libro de poemaz published some day [and I expect every one of you to buy four copiez] and I know that if I don't keep myself motivated that it will never come to fruition.