OTHER PEOPLE’S POETRY, YO!: Take a poem you like. Delete every other line. Write an original line to replace what you’ve erased. Now erase all that remains of the original poem. Re-write what’s left.
That’s a dope prompt. I tried it yesterday and kinda liked what came out. I almost printed it here, but I need it to marinate a few days more. I looked at it too early. I kept staring at the opening three lines– liking them, yet thinking: “Not yet. Its not right… That’s not it.”
The idea of writing something and putting it away for a while before you return to it is essential. You must return to an old path with new eyes.
I’d been desperately depressed the last few months. Now, trying again after a long dry spell it takes a huge effort to write. To WANT to write. I’ve been journalling, which is cool. But anything original? Its hard to focus. My brain needs shaking to remove dead leaves thoughts, and its non-productive branches pruned. I read and search for community and help in other poets.
One of my poetry heroes is Terrance Hayes. Consider his poem The Golden Shovel, which appears in his book Lighthead. Read the poem, then go back and find how he used Gwendolyn Brooks’ ubiquitous We Real Cool for his endlines. A beautiful and subtle idea– you fall into the poem before realizing there’s another layer to pull back and consider. His new poem creates a conversation with an older poet and poem and thereby creates something original without compromising or diminishing what was taken or sampled.
Poet Camille Dungy has taken the same Brooks poem and gone in yet another direction with it. Published today, her poem is called Because It Looked Hotter That Way. Make sure to read her About This Poem note at the bottom of the page. Her version is so warm and folksy… it lured me in and charmed me before I realized she too used the same Brooks sample.
A sweet idea. I’m looking for a short poem to use, re-use, as a kind of bridge to get someplace new. The Red Wheelbarrow? Some ee cummings? Oh, Ms. Dickenson! Can I see you in my office