Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Thinking about yesterday's poetry-class lunch . . . poetry and eating are linked in the social rituals of many cultures, and many poems have come together in the presence of food as part of prandial rituals and entertainment. There are whole anthologies devoted to poetry and food, and I'm sure an anthology could be put together focusing on just one course (soup poems, entree poems, dessert poems), or the act of cooking, or the companionship--"with bread"--of the table.

A Cookie Poems anthology could include Cookie Monster's poem (above), which gets interesting for me at the very point where Cookie Monster breaks from the uninspired constraint of cookieless verse, teaching us that hunger has its own rhyme and reason.

One of my favorite cookie poems:

Lines For The Fortune Cookies

I think you're wonderful and so does everyone else.

Just as Jackie Kennedy has a baby boy, so will you--even bigger.

You will meet a tall beautiful blonde stranger, and you will not say hello.

You will take a long trip and you will be very happy, though alone.

You will marry the first person who tells you your eyes are like scrambled eggs.

In the beginning there was YOU--there will always be YOU, I guess.

You will write a great play and it will run for three performances.

Please phone The Village Voice immediately: they want to interview you.

Roger L. Stevens and Kermit Bloomgarden have their eyes on you.

Relax a little; one of your most celebrated nervous tics will be your undoing.

Your first volume of poetry will be published as soon as you finish it.

You may be a hit uptown, but downtown you're legendary!

Your walk has a musical quality which will bring you fame and fortune.

You will eat cake.

Who do you think you are, anyway? Jo Van Fleet?

You think your life is like Pirandello, but it's really like O'Neill.

A few dance lessons with James Waring and who knows? Maybe something will happen.

That's not a run in your stocking, it's a hand on your leg.

I realize you've lived in France, but that doesn't mean you know EVERYTHING!

You should wear white more often--it becomes you.

The next person to speak to you will have a very intriguing proposal to make.

A lot of people in this room wish they were you.

Have you been to Mike Goldberg's show? Al Leslie's? Lee Krasner's?

At times, your disinterestedness may seem insincere, to strangers.

Now that the election's over, what are you going to do with yourself?

You are a prisoner in a croissant factory and you love it.

You eat meat. Why do you eat meat?

Beyond the horizon there is a vale of gloom.

You too could be Premier of France, if only . . . if only. . .

--Frank O'Hara

What makes this poem work for me is its formal constraint and innovation: the poem captures the tone, syntax, and declarative rhetoric ("You will," "You are," "You have," and so on) that you find in fortune cookies and replaces the vague/ abstract adjectives and nouns of fortune cookies ("love," "wealth," "happiness," and so on) with specific people, places, and things.

The deflations give the poem a humorous tone: not simply fortune ("you will meet an x, y, z person") but also misfortune ("you will not say hello"). And these are sassy cookies that ask tough questions: not "You will find out who you are" but "Who do you think you are, anyway?"

Try writing a poem using whatever fortune you opened at yesterday's lunch-class as the first line of your poem, or turn the fortune upside down: not "you are an ambitious person" but "you are not an ambitious person" or "you are an ambitious person when . . ." Or misread your fortune: "you are an amphibious person" or "you are an ambiguous person." Or replace the pronouns: "we are an ambitious people." Or turn fortune into a question: "Are you an ambitious person?" Talk to the talking cookie.

Bon appetit!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Thursday, December 3, 2009


The "I remember" poem was by far one of the most interesting poems to write and prepare for. Brainard’s book was an interesting read as well as very delightful at how honest it was, sometimes to the point of too honest. When i originally started to write my poem it was going to be about my grandmother that passed away. I finished the entire poem and when i read through it I decided that it was too emotional and there was no way I could discuss something like that in class. So I wrote a different poem and focused on everything I could remember from when I was ten, because for me that was one of those ages that was fun, full of childhood memories, yet an age where you learn a lot of new things. My only diffculty with writing the first and second version of my poems where knowing how much info to put in it and when to draw the line. Otherwise i truely enjoyed going back and sorting through all my memories.

(The site was down starting around 8pm and it kept giving me an error when i tried to post. I have been trying literally every ten minutes since then and this is the first time it actually went though, I have no idea why and this has never happened to me before. I apologize for the lateness I understand if I get no cerdit I'm just upset that it happened like this. )

I remember poem

When I was thinking about the I Remember poem, the one person I have the most memories with is my older brother so I wrote the poem about our memories together. We have been through good and bad memories, I tried to focus on the good ones, mainly because the good ones completely outweigh the bad ones. However, after reading it and thinking about it I am thinking about adding some negative memories in the revision just because every sibling duo has been through something bad together or had a fight. For example, I remember one time when me and my brother were playing he fell and really hurt his neck, he recovered fine and is perfectly fine now. But being that young and that scared that something bad had happened to your best friend/brother is another side of our relationship I would like to show in the poem. I enjoyed writing this poem this most out of all the assignments because these are memories that I probably would have not thought up ever again if I did not have this exercise and it was really a delight to smile thinking about growing up. It was had to end the poem because we are still growing up together so everyday we make memories and I had twenty years to think about. So I tried to stay in a younger age, but this is definitly a project I would like to add more on to as I get older and we grow up more and go through more together. This poem truly was a pleasure to write. I found myself smiling a lot through out writing it.

I Remember

The "I Remember" poem was not my favorite to write but was without a doubt the most thought provoking and therapeutic of the group of poems that we wrote. When I write, especially creative work, I look back at my past and invoke a lot of that emotion into my work but rarely do I ever write about my past. Going about this took a lot of emotional and physical energy out of myself. After reading the book "I Remember" I enjoyed a good amount of the book because it was very personal and you could relate his stories and experiences to your owns. With this personal touch I figured it was about time I write about my childhood and my experiences. In my second draft I would like to add more detail and thought into my poem.

"I remember"

Writing my “I remember” poem was an extremely rewarding experience. I was initially inspired to write my poem based on the book we had to read. At first, I was intimidated by the fact that the book was over 200+ pages of every sentence beginning with “I remember”. I could not imagine even reading let alone writing a poem of this nature. That was until I began reading the book. I absolutely loved how raw and fearless the book was. We had a true look into the author’s past, fears, dreams, thoughts and practically every raw emotion a person can feel. When I began writing my poem, the memories literally poured out. I had such a good time reminiscing. Some of my memories were as clear as day and enjoyable; others were very hard to write on paper because of the subject matter. I did not choose to focus on one particular subject rather I started from one of my most vivid memories and let my thoughts flow from there. After I had written the entire poem to completion I felt a sense of calm. It was somewhat therapeutic to write such a poem and I plan on continuing to compose poems just like this one for the rest of my life.

Poetics 4

When writing my “I Remember” poem, I decided to use my best friend Selene as the subject. She was killed in mid-October, and since she was someone who I was very close with, I thought that reflecting on our relationship and the things I remember the most about her would be the best thing to use when writing the poem. Brainard’s book was helpful to me writing my poem because even though the events he remembered throughout his life were not in chronological order, they were events that stuck with him, and impacted him in so many ways. This encouraged me to freely write about all the things I remembered about Selene, and why she was so important to me. This poem was different for me than the others written throughout the semester because it seemed more personal. Not only was it something heartfelt, but they were all experiences and memories that I will forever cherish. This poem helped me in some ways with my healing process, and also to further recognize how special she was to me and how blessed I am to have these memories with her. The only difficulty I had in writing my “I Remember” poem was knowing when and where to stop. There were so many things that I wanted to include, but I restricted myself because I didn’t want to impose too much on my classmates. This was my favorite poem by far to write.

Poetics 4

Poetics 4
This was a very interesting poem to write. I enjoyed Brainard’s book immensely. Despite the monotony each line seems new and fresh and there is something to be learned about the way Brainard writes in such a succinct, matter of fact style. That being said, I took from Brainard’s style while writing my own poem and it definitely helped me formulate my memories in a particular way. This was very different from writing other poems because it followed a very specific formula. There was much less creative freedom as far as word choice and style. While this might sometimes be seen as a bad thing, I took to mean that less emphasis was to be put on creative wording, and more emphasis was to be placed on the memories and the ideas themselves. I was forced to dig deeper than usual, and I learned a great deal from my poem. I learned the power of reflection and the power of sitting down and writing down where your memory takes you. It can be a very emotional experience ranging from tears to laughter but ultimately I think it is a very beneficial experience. As far as memory goes, I’ve learned that it is unpredictable. There is no controlling it. Synapses fire whenever they feel like it. In order to write an “I remember” poem about a clearly defined topic you have to really buckle down and focus on all the memories surrounding a particular person, place, or thing and that can be very difficult. When I was writing this poem, I think that the most important discovery I made was about myself. The topic I chose was something that is very difficult to talk about for me. Through this poem however, I was able to channel those emotions, harness those emotions and write a poem that I believe was very powerful. I also learned that, "I remember" poems are very much written for the authors as opposed to the readers. They are a sort of auto biography or a form of psychotherapy to help deal with problems that are otherwise difficult to talk about. I would highly recommend writing an I remember poem to any new poet!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Divorce and Change- "I Remember" Poetics

Writing the "I Remember" poem was quite an experience for me. I chose to write about my experiences surrounding my parents divorce and my father's struggles with alcoholism. I have never really shared my feelings or thoughts about their divorce with anyone, let alone a class of strangers. This poem was sort of a break through for me because for the first time I understood the power of poetry. Reading my poem evoked real emotions in me and breaking down in class was surprising because I am normally excellent at controlling my feelings or keeping them inside. Poetry was a foreign thing to me at the beginning of this class and while I tried hard to evoke emotions in my other poems this "I Remember" poem was my favorite to write. I have never used writing as a way to express myself or anything like that, which is quite obvious because my grammar is not up to par, but this poem taught me that it can be healing. I felt a calm after writing and re-reading my poem I have never experienced before. I plan on keeping this poem as sort of a work in progress for a long time to help me move on from my past experience with my parents divorce.

Poetics 4

In writing my "I remember" poem, I experienced great discomfort. More than that, I actually became quite depressed and lonesome (and very insecure; more introverted too). I found it very difficult to write. I am stuck on a certain kind of style, which lacks the kind of honesty that I really am looking for, in that it (my style) is often nondescript, using lots of mysterious word play and "confident" rhetoric, and involves umbrellas of overarching top/down processing and psychology interests of mine. It (my "style") often lacks imagery, and comes off "text-bookey and intellectual, which is good," (says a friend of mine who is a very talented poetry graduate), "but could use a specific and emotional dimension to it". I tried very hard. But, although I went through a very real and very growing pained experience in doing the poem, I am not entirely so sure that my poem is really all that good (though I have grown to like it more and more as time goes on). However my poem, perhaps, has a certain kind of insecurity about it that alludes to its own fault and lackings; which maybe makes it "clever"(?). Perhaps I have not liked it in part because it is hard for me to see my self so flawed and troubled. I had a bit of a hard time with having to write "I remember" over and over again, but I figured that I should make "lemonade with lemons" so to speak (or at least try). Writing this poem forced me to go back in time to places that I have been so desperately trying to escape from, including (but not limited to) the kind of person that I used to be, and perhaps still am "deep" down. And, another thing (p.s.); for whatever "weird" reason, I have developed the conception that perhaps a great poem is one that is made through an authentic and genuine process and experience of which its result may not even be of importance at all(?). (This poem left me a nervous wreck  in shambles).

Poetics 4

Writing the "I Remember" poem wasn't difficult for me, because I am usually—subconsciously—reflecting everyday about the past. The in class discussion about Joe Brainard's "I Remember" inspired me, but I knew that I wanted to focus on one specific topic--unlike Brainard's mini biography. I decided to write about my memory of Sunday dinners because they have influenced who I am today, which is kind of pathetic considering my brothers and sister probably never think about Sunday dinners. Although this is a sensitive subject for me, the poem was easy to write. I still have a lot to reflect on, and learn from this childhood experience.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Poetics 4

For my I remember poem, I knew initially that I wanted it to focus on my relationship with my father due to the fact because of odd dynamics of my fathers relationship with me. At first I simply just sat at my desk, typing up different particular memories i have with my father, but I noticed at first that I seemed to be writing with a muzzle. By that I mean, I seemed to be holding myself back. I typed and typed and deleted until I felt like the emotions I was writing about were vivid and clear. Then I unhappily finished. I was frustrated with the fact that even though the emotion was well conveyed, I had a hard time with grasping details mostly because I was being so overwhelmed by the emotion in which felt at typing it. To be honest the poem was left unfinished because I began to be to bitter and needed to clear my head. Editing my poem will be a bitter sweet moment, because though I am looking forward to really grasping the details I am not looking forward to the bitterness in which I will feel editing it.