"I am trying to check my habits of seeing, to counter them for the sake of greater freshness. I am trying to be unfamiliar with what I'm doing." - John Cage

Saturday, November 24, 2012

30 Poems in 30 Days: Day Twenty Four Prompt

Poetry of Engagement
I'll be reading, along with several other local authors and the editors, from a new anthology The New American Poetry of Engagement this Thursday night, 6:30 pm, at Sundance Books in Reno. This anthology gathers a unique blend of voices that struggle with how to speak and what to say.  As I read, I think, yes, I wanted to say that.  Someone needs to say that.  Here is the refreshing language, finally, while mainstream, especially during the election years, framed everything with "camouflage language" as Ray March of Modoc Forum and Surprise Valley Writer's Conference calls it. Most of the poets who have contributed to the collection have also written statements towards their process, an added bonus for writers!  Read this book.

The Prompt: Let's use this excerpt from the poem Background Check by Forrest Gander as a model for our own found poetry. After reading the excerpt and the interview, find your own fragment of text or current issue and play with ways of reshaping it.  How can your form, maybe through fragment, maybe through repetition and juxtaposition, support your content?
The UN diplomat draws it is not it is not war
behind the ambassador to speak draws
a curtain it is not Guernica to speak united
the curtain across the diplomat a reproduction
United States with curtain across the not war
appropriate scene right behind him it is not the
ambassador of Guernica to speak with right states
of reproduction the diplomat draws a curtain
across the scene it is not appropriate for the
ambassador of the United State to speak of war
with a reproduction of Guernica
right behind behind right behind him

In an interview, Forrest Gander discusses his process: 
Mario Hibert: In one of your poems, you write, “Guernica not appropriate the ambassador of the US to speak of war…” and it probably alludes to the tapestry copy of Picasso’s Guernica displayed on the wall of the United Nations building in New York City, at the entrance to the Security Council room.  That poem “Background Check” seemed to me like your favorite during readings at the Sarajevo Poetry Days. How do you comment on it?
Forrest Gander: In the poem, I try to encourage language to take on that cubist, interrelated violence of Picasso’s painting.  The fact that the Bush administration considered it inappropriate for the U.S. ambassador to drum up support for war with an image of women and children and animals suffering behind him—well, the irony is hideous enough. 

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