Saturday, July 30, 2011

More Looking, Less Deciding

This idea of an epic/consecutive epics has taken hold. Epic with a small or super-condensed "E" - ten cantos each a page of fifty lines in decasyllabic block form; hoping for ten over ten years.

In my free moments I think about possible themes. Milton spun quite a bit of good from a few lines in the Bible; perhaps I could do the same? Different lines, perhaps Moses dying in sight of Canaan, or something from Matthew.

Or biography. Who are my heroes? Kierkegaard? Robert Lowell? Fausto Coppi?

Or personal biography; or a bit of local history; mathematics and science. Science fiction: satire?

Something recounting an episode from Thoreau's life, perhaps. Or, mixing two or more themes together. And I think about starting somehow and seeing what comes of it.

I have a page running where I have set down some lines:

Coincidence and chemicals and noise

The small things we put aside and forget
and will not throw away....

I woke on a ship. We were out at sea,

A face can be recovered in a dream,

There’s some relief in falling from a tree

Not everyone can be saved, bodies pushed beneath the waves,

Whenever someone says I may, I can

Strapped-down inveterate obliging cinnamon
tied-at-the-waist - incendiary troglodytes

Who lives long enough to see how it ends?
Will I complete a circle, or will trials,
delays, make of my life a half-tale - ...

Am I secure, annoyed, or without sin?
Death, regurgitation, and little men.

I am considering a form other than decasyllables. Mixed lines, or fourteeners (as Chapman), or who knows. I have ordered a recent book edited by Strand that covers varieties of form in contemporary poetry, or examples of older forms used recently, I guess. There may be something in there to push me in one direction or another.

I am enjoying the process, the anxiety, the limbo. I like form for being, for me, both an object or obstacle and a means or prompt. Writing in form states an intent and humility, such as I understand, that is clear from the outset and remains in place for a reader's immediate comprehension. I have written something (says form) in the shape of what others have done wonderfully. I have added some personal twists. I hope I do not embarrass myself here, says form, but clearly I have opened myself up to criticism. Whatever I am at doing, I am willing and even happy to fail, if only because my models are so very alive, so very great.

At any rate, I find it comfortable, this process. I am still reading excerpts from Byron's Don Juan (Norton Critical Edition) but may move on soon to Boneshaker, by Cherie Priest, a so-called "steam punk" novel. This project has helped my with a couple ongoing poems which I may publish on FB in my usual manner or seek to place elsewhere.

More looking, less deciding, more living.

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