Found Poetry

CWII had been with Maia Ipp for our poetry unit (recently ended), during which we studied Jack Spicer and his whole thing with Federico Garcia Lorca. There were a lot of bewildered questions and exasperated exclaims: “So Spicer just claimed that Lorca wrote everything in After Lorca? Even the ‘translations’ of other people’s poems? Even the poems Spicer himself wrote?” We studied the concept of translation, as well as Spicer’s “transmissions” from Lorca (who is, of course, dead at the time Spicer wrote in his name).

One topic that particularly gripped me was found poetry. Of course I’ve known of them– my fellow senior Giorgia loves them (and I the way she does them, by cutting out the lines in strips and manually rearranging them)– but I’ve never had much interest in the form. Maia’s class, however, and what my fellow CDubs were doing with found poetry, made me think twice.

The first exercise we did was to make found poetry from Spicer’s Vancouver Lectures. I’ve always been a categorical thinker, so the stuff I pulled out of the text belonged in certain categories, so my poem read more like a list than anything else. However, as my classmates began sharing their constructs, I realized how linear the poetry could be. My thoughts and intent had more freedom than I had initially thought; the original text is not a constraint, but a guide.

(As it happens, I like my poem enough to throw it on here– so maybe this entire blogpost had just been an excuse to show it off.)

After Spicer’s Vancouver Lectures

Tonight, Eliot on one hand and Duncan on the other, you know, nice poetry
hang it onto metaphors
emotion machines in perpetual motion

Infinitely small:

One-eighth of the struggle
FIve dollars from Ten dollars
First step, step Two, Third stage
Two or Three years later

I prefer more the unknown
Nonsense:

the furniture in the room
children’s blocks
Oscar Wilde

nonsense you have to avoid
Or you are stuck with
screwed up
being inside you

Some of my best friends are dying in loony bins
Some of m friends are dying in loony bins
Some are dying in loony bins
Some are dying
Some are loony bins

On found poetry, Poets.org says: “Many poets have also chosen to incorporate snippets of found texts into larger poems, most significantly Ezra Pound. His Cantos includes letters written by presidents and popes, as well as an array of official documents from governments and banks. The Waste Land, by T. S. Eliot, uses many different texts, including Wagnerian opera, Shakespearian theater, and Greek mythology. Other poets who combined found elements with their poetry are William Carlos Williams, Charles Olson, and Louis Zukofsky.” I had never thought that including lines from other texts could count as found (though now that I think about it, duh). That’s one of my favorite kinds of allusions– referencing not only the content, but also the style and form of another piece of writing.

The Found Poetry Review came up in my brief research for this post. It looks sleek and awesome, and I’m definitely checking it out. (Let’s end on a random plug.)

[DR] Monday, Oct. 28th

by Giorgia (’14)

On Monday we returned to the classroom from our annual camping camping trip at Kirby Cove sleepy and smoke-smelling with fresh faces and new stories. Among which Heather learned to play snaps, Giorgia (’14) tried to teach samba, Justus (’15) was a sexy bookcase, the freshmen underwent forceful (and ultimately unsuccessful) segregation, the Schott-Rosenfield (’14, ’17) sibling rivalry went crashing into the sea, and Colin (’16) finally took down Jules (’14), our own departmental kraken, during our traditional beach romp. Mostly, it was just, as the young ones say “cold as balls.”

Obviously, we had a lot to discuss on Monday. We did this eating delicious peanut butter chocolate cookies Noa (’16) made for her writing buddy, Lizzie (’14) (happy 17th birthday lizz!), and leftover croissants, potato chips, and izzes from the trip. We talked about our favorite moments, what went well and what didn’t.

After our Kirby Cove debrief, the freshmen went off to the dark cavern they call “Freshmen Seminar” with Maia, and the rest of CW settled down with Sarah Fontaine (<3) for umläut. It’s early on in the year, so we are currently lying out preliminary framework, along with rebooting umläut‘s online presence and overall mission statement.

That evening, five seniors– Midori Chen, Mykel Mogg, Giorgia Peckman, Frances Saux, and Abigail Schott-Rosenfield —read at the Book Club of California (of which Abigail is a member). We were asked to the Book Club by Abigail’s grandmother, Kathy, earlier this year. Each of us read through a section of the Club’s collection (the club specializes in fine print press), mostly Tangram books, and each selected one or two works from which to write from. Our response poems focused on California history, and the relation of landscape and the individual. It was quite exciting to read our work outside of the school community, especially in such a rich and resonant environment full of so many monumental works.

We also sold a full set of umläut to the Book Club!

Me in a Drawer

by Jules Cunningham (’14)

Picture 94

I’ve tucked me into a drawer now
Empty harmonica cases only good for holding cigarettes
New pens
A ceramic ocarina that hits concert Ab and three-quarters
a metronome
muscle tape
a watch out of power for at least 5 years
2 broken notebooks
god knows how much loose change
I’ve tucked me into a drawer
so I can walk away for a while
pretend I’m made of pizza dough
an iphone
some stylish leather jacket
maybe even a saxophone or two
a few books of Classical literature
and an instruction manual
rather than 100 poetry and wicca and fantasy and comic books that I’ve kept and sold and bought again cause I couldn’t bear to see them running off with another lover
rather than an old typewriter
and a smelly blue bandanna
and if I keep me
locked up in a drawer
I can look around my room
and sooner or later I’ll see someone else littered across the carpet
someone stronger and clean-shaven and worth at least 100 20s
rather than
12 quarters
32 dimes
45 nickles
and 187 pennies
Someone who doesn’t find a vodka bottle
years old in his hiking gear
and if he does
he certainly doesn’t cry about it
and if I close my eyes
and don’t think about the me locked in the drawer
where no one can see
and where no one will look
I can open my eyes
believing that strong someone is me

Untitled

by Justus Honda (’15)
From the Sarah Fontaine Unit

rumbling bustle in a café at 7 o’clock in the evening,
cardboard cups and porcelain mugs click and tap on marble
tables, drawling voices reverberate off dimly lit walls.
silent people filter through.
someone walks in with music under their hat and
oceansound in their pocket. everyone, it seems, has simple
unapparent secrets. out of sight a slightly damp coatpocket
carries a tiny conch, tarnishcolored with the cacophony of
the sea in its spiral inside.
watches tick voices mingle automobiles buzz and groan
newspapers and magazines rattle cellphones whine and in
the everpresent din in the pocket of an unnamed passerby is
a tarnishcolored conch, intricate mazework innards infused
with oceansound, projecting the memory of the turbulent
sea—
people breathe and cough. the espresso machine sighs.
coffee is acidic and bitter going down but is never
regretted. far off a wave crashes but no one hears.

THE LIZARD AND THE WORM

THE LIZARD AND THE WORM
I’m not sure what has happened between us, but if it
helps,
I once saw a lizard bite a worm in half,
a live worm, the lizard and the worm
about the size as you and I,
and about the same shape, really—
the lizard took half the worm
in its jaw, thing still alive, still moving.
Carried it away to I don’t know where.
I watched the leftover bit of worm
try to find its way back into the soil,
and then I left before I saw if it did.
And now, I think, is a good time for us to sit
and wonder, who are you in that story I just told,
and can telling that story to you somehow
take me out of it completely?
I want to be god. Give me good news.


–Frances Saux

if you think this is about you, it probably is

by Shanna (’13)

i didn’t eat for 3 days and 3
stupid
boys
told me i looked skinny enough
to toss in a bed
and i broke 3 nails
punching them out

you’re scared of me because i
curse like it’s my first language and
i act like i’m 6’2
even though i don’t wear
high heels cause they
make me feel inferior
to you
and your dirty sneakers

i’m good at telling the truth
like
my english teacher won’t know
what the fuck to do with my poetry
cause it’s gnarly, messy
unrhymed and i probably mention
something inappropriate
like that time you
told me you think about me naked
when you close your eyes
in the shower

when you try to kiss me i’ll probably
ask you if i look like your ex
i’m good at that
awkward small talk
bumping hands like
my limbs are
little accidents

i understand if you wanna pick
another blonde
with longer legs and bluer eyes
with a cleaner mouth, better breath
i’m a little used
and i still have scars
and discolorations
up and down my
body
from the bites
and brush strokes
of everyone
before you
who told me
i was perfect
till i wasn’t

i have a problem
with the way you
make eye contact
like it’s delicate
instinctive
and i hate the way you
get so close to my face
like you’re trying to find
out what i had for lunch
like you’re trying to
crawl into my mouth
again

i wrote your name on my notebooks
and the insides of my fingers
the kind of ink that smears when you lick it
the kind that gets on your neck
when i pull you forward
yanking out your molars
with my tongue
and i don’t want to be around me
when i’m in a bad mood
either

there are parts of
my body
you’ll only see in
a textbook
and i’m sorry for
all the creepy glances
at the bus stop
but i don’t like handshakes
and i don’t want your hugs

i didn’t eat for 3 days
and you told me i
was just your type

More of Carville Annex

by Abigail (’14)

Frances and I recently went to another Carville Annex reading. (This time it was at the Carville Annex building in the Sunset, not in a forest glen.) The reading was a lecture given by Molly Prentiss, “non-famous famous person” from Brooklyn, on– quoting  “aspirational objects…commercial tactics…and reasons why stories will not die.” It was also a party for the revamped Actually People Quarterly.

I got there a little early, so Sarah Fontaine, one of the Annex founders, invited me up to the attic to wait for everyone else to arrive. She told me about what she’s planning on teaching us in her CW unit later this year– it’s going to be about, as I understood it, the places where genres overlap and make new kinds of writing. I won’t reveal anything else, but she seemed very excited about it.

The reading was in the attic. Maybe 40 people were there– it certainly felt packed– and most were sitting on the floor. Before she started, Molly (it feels wrong to call her Ms. Prentiss when the setting of the reading was so intimate) handed out “non-linear” maps of the lecture, which was titled “The Necessary Narrative.” A picture of part of a map is shown below. It was especially useful afterwards, when I wanted to be reminded of all the things she’d touched on.

Molly Prentiss has not only a unique perspective, but also a unique style. She grew up in a commune in Santa Cruz; now she works in fashion advertising. She told us about her “fake,” unfinished novel, which might become a real, finished novel, without boring us, and about noblewomen’s long nails, and about her pretend childhood pony, Midnight. She was also funny. Although Frances and I were confused about how loudly people were laughing– she’d make a joke that wasn’t uproariously amusing, but everyone else was rolling… That part was slightly off-putting.

I wanted to read her lecture again after she finished. I haven’t searched for it yet, or tried to get ahold of her, but Frances and I got copies of the new Actually People Quarterly, which has some other Molly Prentiss pieces in it. I could bring mine in and leave it on the shelves in CW, if anyone else wants to share a good thing.

Coming up is another Carville Annex lecture:

Saturday, April 20th, 7pm
Inventory of Shimmers: The Neutral in Three Parts
a lecture by Colleen Stockmann

EARLY


the sky smells pink and hard
when i walk through it in the mornings
the sulfuric dusts the dawn
a fruit-bowl
full rosy belly bent backwards
that loud gray groan inside the skin
pierced and peeling like a salty apple
swollen hot choleric
elderly clouds left over damp winds
scraggle across dimly like some
stale leftover scraps of canvas
just enough to swab up the strokes
i can hear the first few fistfuls of light
faint and wavering like timid bells
then with a clap, the sun heaves up
a heavy head
–Olivia Weaver

Stargazing

We grab the black binoculars
With the thick black strap
And the book about constellations
And a beach towel
We get into the car
Sit in the leather seats,
And you drive as I gaze out the window
At the city lights
And up at the starless purple sky,
That reflects the city lights back.
You drive until the concrete road
Turns to dusty dirt
and the city fades into the purple horizon
You drive to the open countryside
The grass grows knee high
The crickets chirp
The land seems to spread out around us
For miles, and miles
And there is one tall oak tree
We put the beach towel
On the grass, under the oak tree
And you slip the thick black strap
Around my neck
You point with your figure where I should look
And you read from the book
About Orion, Camelopardalis,
Cancer, Aries, Pegasus, and Pyxis
But I don’t see the outline of great gods
Or crabs or horses
I see little white dots
I see the lights of cities on distant planets

-by Josephine Weidner