Wednesday, October 3, 2007

hey poets, you don't have to just read poetry!

Sometimes it seems like poets just don't have enough to write about. We get so many poems about sitting in one's room, looking out one's window, or washing dishes and looking out the kitchen window...And then I find myself sitting at home, trying to write and looking out the window!

Rather than suggest, as John Barr has unhelpfully suggested, that we all run off to Africa and shoot big game to have something to write about, I'm going to suggest that poets in search of material can start by expanding their reading.

I'm thinking here of Polish Nobel laureate Wislawa Szymborska's newspaper columns, which have been collected and translated into English by Clare Cavanagh in the wonderful book Nonrequired Reading. Szymborska clearly brings her poetic intelligence to bear on reading such titles as When Your Dog Gets Sick, Giants and Dwarves of the Animal Kingdom, Wallpapering Your Home, and The Encyclopedia of Assassinations.

So here's your exercise: take the title of a thoroughly unpoetic book, and use it as a title for your poem. Here are some examples from Szymborska's book to get you started:

Accidents in the Home

Repairing and Redecorating Your Apartment

Wall Calendar for 1973

Heat Waves and Fevers

The History of the Near East in Antiquity.

Post your attempts here if you wish!



Matt said...

Dr. Erika's Hormone Solution for Your Daughter

The other day after work I was walking arm-
     in-arm with Dr. Erika
around the Jackie O. Reservoir in high spirits,      admiring every flower and tree
we came upon when inspiration
struck! “Matt!” she cried, “Listen to the      solution I’ve just this moment devised
regarding the hormones of daughters!”

With much enthusiasm she proceeded to lay      down
the foundation for a revolution in hormone      solutions,
particularly daughter-related ones.

If I had been paying closer attention I would      tell you
all about her radical new ideas. They seemed      pretty
sound scientifically, and I know your      daughter’s been having
hormone problems, so I really wanted to help.      Unfortunately
for your daughter, I was distracted by a      number of things—
an errant snail in my path, an ominous      chemical odor on the breeze,
Dr. Erika’s wide-ranging medical expertise,
and my own hormone problems,
for which Dr. Erika offered no solution.

Matt said...

Well, the line breaks got completely screwed up, but you get the idea.

Indiana Review said...

thanks for giving it a go, matt!