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  #21  
Unread 04-06-2021, 07:52 PM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is offline
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Let me understand, Kevin. Does pretending you're blind mean you have to give up driving?
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  #22  
Unread 04-06-2021, 08:49 PM
John Riley John Riley is offline
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I'm writing a poem a day right now. Yes, I am in a vein and many of them are similar in pace and structure, but when I can write myself into the zone I like much of what appears. I write poetry for what it does to me. Chances are I'm never going into the Norton Anthology or whatever so I write to touch something. One advantage I may have is that I made my living writing nonfiction for years. In some ways that hampered me when I returned to poetry, but one of the gifts it provided me is I can write and write and write, although I have slowed down a bit because of age and such things. So I don't mind writing the poem a day because I may write a couple of thousand words or so before I touch something that sparks me, then I'm in the place I need to be. I do it because it's fun and I know that at some point I'll go to a place that won't allow me to do it and be miserable until I am allowed to leave.

Also, who in the hell wants to write without seeing the words? That's like having sex with the most beautiful partner you can imagine in the pitch dark. I love the words before me.
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  #23  
Unread 04-07-2021, 02:08 AM
Yves S L Yves S L is offline
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So the house style is not to explicitly refer to other people's comments. Rightio.

I interpret composing with eyes closed as an exercise in what is commonly called "working memory" and it is useful insofar as an increase in mental bandwith can easily be applied to eyes open composition. Be able to manipulate large amounts of information mentally is known as usefl in fields as different as chess and muscial composition, so no reason why it would not have an application to poetry. Nevertheless, for me a preliminary exercise would be expanding working memory in relation to sensory perception, so being able to hold the sensory details of something as simple as sitting in the garden.

The talk of inspiration reminds me of what I heard a music teacher say recently: Mozart wrote his masterpieces because he was getting paid. Talk about seperating those that are amateur from those that are not, to me, has a basis in the history of artists having to feed their children. More generally, I interpret talk of inspiration as depending on subconscious processes not made explicit. There was a phase when I could write ten poems a day.
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  #24  
Unread 04-07-2021, 05:10 AM
W T Clark W T Clark is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Rainbow View Post
A better exercise in my opinion is to pretend you are blind for a month and compose poetry that way. No pen, no paper, no computer/laptops/mobile phones, etc. Only the "internal" page, your mind, and your voice. "Write" and revise ten poems this way. After the month has gone by, then write them down. Once you better master moments of using only the internal page, you will be less dependent on the external one. You'll learn better to create and retain poetry internally on the spot, anywhere, everywhere, anyday, everyday.

I don't think you really understand your own analogy. Since individuals who are blind have access both to their own technology, screen readers, and forms of written communication, your comment seems uninformed at the best.
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  #25  
Unread 04-07-2021, 05:39 AM
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Jane Crowson Jane Crowson is offline
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I just wanted to quickly leap back to say ‘thank-you’, as this forum seems to have a knack of turning what is quite a dull question into a critical debate that along the way shares diverse writing processes as well as some very interesting ideas.

Alchemists, all of you!

David - It might be that one. It was quite sentimental - I don’t usually like sentimental poems either, but I liked that one, and it’s stuck with me! Isn’t that strange. Maybe it’s a sign to send it out?

Claudia Gary - thank-you - it’s really interesting what you say about the poem/poetry percolating and then writing itself just before a deadline.

Matt - I think our views are fairly aligned here - for me, it’s a struggle between balance, because I like writing/generating ideas and find it more tricky to slow down and edit. Producing in quantity is sometimes, I fear, my procrastination-strategy for not doing the harder, more complex editing work.

Yves - Thank-you - I think practice can help support technical expertise, which I think is what you’re suggesting.

Roger - I agree - I like the camaraderie of working in a group for this kind of exercise - I think it’s useful to see it as an exercise, too.

Susan - thank-you - I never thought about translation in that way at all. Your translations are lovely (I don’t comment on them because of my sublime ignorance of translation) but that is so, so interesting. I might try translating something, although I won’t be posting them here! I need the practice in the technical areas you mention, so it’s a good idea.

Max - thank-you - the balancing of revision with new writing is a very good point to make, I think.

Roger - yes, and although I hadn’t thought about NaPo so deeply I think that it does kind of condition you to put aside an hour or two to write and then it becomes part of your day - a kind of space-making/mental expectation/practice.

Julie - thank-you. I agree - and the polite exclamations can be tricky sometimes. Crikey to those who think their first drafts are unequivocally golden, though - although what is coming across to me in this thread is that sometimes a first draft can be something that has been brewing for a long time, too. I’ve occasionally produced a first draft of quality which was good enough to send out, but rarely (like twice) and it was - well now I’m thinking it probably wasn’t a fluke, it was just I’d been thinking about it for a while. I tend to get three or four good poems out of April, and those after revision. But I do have a lot of fun along the way!

Yves - I think you’re right about the company being important - I wonder, too, how many people engaging with the exercise save up some drafts to post in April (that could just be me being mean though). But again, it makes me think of an interesting potential correlation between skill/practice - making space to write and also ideas-generation.

Kevin - that’s an interesting exercise - the idea of thinking about words as kind of internally-spoken. I’ve never tried that (although sometimes maybe I have on walks) - again, it sets me thinking about the process before the writing. Thank-you.

John - I like your work very much, and it’s interesting to me what you say about having had all those years of practice writing. There’s something about craftsmanship here, I think - and also about not being afraid - not writing to produce the ‘perfect’ but writing because it’s important to write - to make/craft new space, to tell stories.

It’s all getting so interesting now that my thoughts are getting muddled so I shall pause before I write an essay.

I think, for me, much of what I get out of writing a poem a day is playfulness - a chance to experiment - and company - there's a camaraderie which is fun. I wouldn't enjoy it if I couldn't work in a group. Revision, on the other hand, takes a pen-chewed individual silence. I think I just enjoy it - not every day, but most days in April. It's nice to be able to play with words, see what happens.

And thank you again -



Sarah-Jane

Last edited by Jane Crowson; 04-07-2021 at 05:47 AM.
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  #26  
Unread 04-07-2021, 05:53 AM
Yves S L Yves S L is offline
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Hello Jane,

I am mostly thinking that a fine-grained approach to technique (which includes idea generation) is foundational to all things including 30-day poetry marathons. NaPo for me is mostly fun for experienced and skilled writers who have a resevoir of technique, background, an audience, and a general thought process that is already continually running poetry (having a running not a standing start), and more an extended torture exercise for folk who do not have the advantages.

I only did NaPo after I gained a certain background, and that made it productive to me because it then allowed me to apply that background at high-speed while getting lots of positive feedback. All you are doing during NaPo is applying what you can already do, because there is no time to develop new skills.

The social element is also a key ingredient. Having fun increaseses your output (positive emotions help the mind), being accountable is important, also massively reading a lot of other people's poetry adds to the process, and just knowing your work is getting read all play a key role, each of these things gives you something that composing on your lonesome does not.
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  #27  
Unread 04-07-2021, 07:22 AM
W T Clark W T Clark is online now
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I agree with Yves that napo often allows one to heighten pre-existing strategies. For me, I am being drawn to ekphrastics, which (I hope) play to my own skills. I hope later to branch into metre, or do something modernist with rhyme.

I have a very basic instinct to write. I wouldn't even call it having a story to tell or a message to present; it is a much more biological, baser instinct. Napo is accessible for me in that regard.
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  #28  
Unread 04-07-2021, 07:49 AM
Yves S L Yves S L is offline
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Ekphrastics is a good general strategy for NaPo, because the artwork gives constraints (the artwork is about something specific written in specific context in a specific time and place by a specific artist in a specific place in their artistic journey ) while giving a multi-sensory stimulus/prompts in a stock of aural or visual (music and paintings) images, themes, memory/emotional associations, structural devices, and so on.

Personally my base instinct is to sing as the birds sing, which can be transumuted to a constrant stream of words (redirect emotional flow to another "channel").

Did I mention that I use online forums to just generally practice the transmutation of thoughts into words?
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  #29  
Unread 04-07-2021, 08:04 AM
W T Clark W T Clark is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yves S L View Post
Ekphrastics is a good general strategy for NaPo, because the artwork gives constraints (the artwork is about something specific written in specific context in a specific time and place by a specific artist in a specific place in their artistic journey ) while giving a multi-sensory stimulus/prompts in a stock of aural or visual (music and paintings) images, themes, memory/emotional associations, structural devices, and so on.

Personally my base instinct is to sing as the birds sing, which can be transumuted to a constrant stream of words (redirect emotional flow to another "channel").

Did I mention that I use online forums to just generally practice the transmutation of thoughts into words?

But what is the language using us for?

I often find that rubbing up against the constraints of an ekphrastic present new opportunities for me; I guess I take an impressionistic rather than descriptive approach.

Maybe the beauty of language is that it is doing more than you bargain for. For me, transmuting thoughts into words is made more complicated because with language, unlike music for example, each word has not just an emotional connection but a historical connection, so that meaning itself in language is less under control than you would at first think.
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  #30  
Unread 04-07-2021, 08:15 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Hey Sarah-Jane

No, I've never tried any sort of poem-a-day or Poetry Month Challenge things. Apart from the analogy with being blind, which doesn't quite follow through, I think I recognise Kevin's approach as closest to my own. What happens is I spend a lot of my time vaguely thinking, daydreaming, musing and fretting about poems and poetry, like I'm constantly trying to kind of 'plug in' to something that feels creative. This isn't a conscious writing technique though, it's just how my brain works these days. Sometimes it pisses me (or other people) off because it makes me distracted. But I don't write anything down. Then, when a poem comes it seems to come from nowhere, and it comes fast, and it's usually written to completion within a few hours, or overnight at most. Then I show it to you guys and you tell me what's wrong with it ha. So I don't really have those notebooks of half-finished ideas and random lines, I just have what feels like dead time, but clearly isn't, that lasts anything from a week to a couple of months and then suddenly BANG! A poem. Some of this routine is probably due to lifestyle. I can't find the time to set aside daily exclusive writing time. I mean, I write a lot of rubbish here on GT, but I just do that on my phone as I'm doing other things. It doesn't need the same mental space as poetry.

As I say, it isn't a conscious approach, it's just what my experience of writing has always been since I was bitten by the poetry bug. And because that was relatively recently and relatively late in life, I've had a, perhaps superstitious, reluctance to mess with it. Occasionally I've self-pityingly whined to poet friends here that I'm blocked, that I'll never write again. And they've given me a title or just forced me to write something. I quite like that. Being affectionately bullied into writing haha.

All the sensible people say write every day/force yourself to write/do writing exercises. It's just not what I do. Perhaps I'm missing out!

Last edited by Mark McDonnell; 04-07-2021 at 10:25 AM.
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