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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

JM's Writing Experiments

I wanted to see if these were still alive on the internet somewhere.

Here's more complete list:

1. Make a list of writing experiments.
2. Write a poem in which you include some reference, explicit or implicit, to everyone you know who has committed suicide.
3. Write poems designed for a particular magazine (a la Jack Spicer), even if this magazine doesn’t publish poetry. Send the poems to the magazine as you write them until they either publish you or tell you to stop.
4. If you are an academic, give an academic paper composed entirely of heroic couplets. Don’t tell anyone what you are doing.
5. “Ghost-write” poems for politicians or celebrities.
6. Write non-stop for 6 months, in every waking hour not devoted to any other necessary activity.
7. Compose a poem employing as many metaphors or examples as possible derived from Wittegenstein’s Philosophical Investigations.
8. Read only poetry written before 1800 for a year. See if your writing has changed. If it has changed for the better, do the same with 1700.
9. Take a book of poetry by someone else and compose poetic responses to every single poem. Try this with a poet you hate and then with a poet you love. Try writing your poems directly in the book, if you can stand to deface it.
10. Invent “heteronimos” a la Pessoa.
11. Compose a “Japanese Poetic Diary”
12. Write an autobiography, but including only events having to do with particular “subjects” (cooking, jazz, landlords, shoes).
13. Write the eleventh “Duino Elegy.”
14. Write a book of poetry in which the letter B never appears. See if anyone notices.
15. Parody your own style.
16. Stage elaborate contests (sestina contests, memorizing contests, rhyming contests).
17. Invent multiple ways of “gambling” on poetry (e.g. on the contests devised above).
18. Create a “neo-classical” style that is as regular and normative as Racine. The vocabulary should be fairly limited, the syntax limpid, the versification utterly smooth. Use this style as your normal mode of communication as much as you can get away with.
19. Try to get non-poets to collaborate with you on grandiose poetic projects. Test your persuasive powers.
20. Convince famous painters to illustrate your work or paint your portrait, or composers to set your poems to music.
21. Practice thinking in complete sentences. Do not write these down.
22. Be a Platonic “name-giver” of the type described in the Cratylus. Work at giving things their exact or “proper” names. Then practice with “misnomers.”
23. See if Wittgenstein was right: try to invent a “private language” for your sensations.
24. Adopt a variety of social “identities” in your writing (race, ethnicity, class, sexual identity). However, avoid any explicit “identifying” reference in the poem itself (e.g. don’t use the word “barrio” in your chicano poems).
25. Invent a private slang (a la Lester Young); attempt to get as many people as you can to use the words you coin. Don’t use these words in your writing; rather, conceive of the invention of this language as an independent poetic activity.
26. Write “vocalese lyrics” to a recorded jazz solo.
27. Practice speaking in blank verse as “naturally” as possible.
28. Create your own avant-garde movement; make sure you officially dissolve the movement after 6 months or a year.
29. Invent an imaginary city, complete with geography, history, architecture, prominent citizens, etc… Keep a sort of “bible” of all the information you compile. Then write poems set in this city.
30. Write nothing but sestinas and pantoums for a month. Then “cannabilize” them, using the best lines to write other poems.

1 comment:

Leslie said...

These are difficult and excellent!