Friday, May 09, 2008

Spontaneous Poetry

“Do not feel left out when your school, church, Zen center, daycare center has a bazaar, carnival, rummage sale. Don’t think you have nothing to contribute. Simply set up a spontaneous writing booth. All you need is a pile of blank paper, some fast-writing pens, a table, a chair, and a sign saying, ‘Poems on Demand’ or ‘Poems in the Moment’ or ‘You name the subject, I’ll write on it.’”

“You must be fearless and willing to lose everything at any moment. With the writing booth there is the opportunity to be a great warrior: you must let go of everything as you write and then in handing it over to the customer.”

Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones (1986)

While an undergraduate student in English at S.U.N.Y. New Paltz (1987-1991), I had the thrill of being excessively involved in the English Club and the literary mag they produced, The Accordion Flyer. (I’m reading an issue of Accordion Flyer in the picture.) When I arrived at New Paltz, current English Club President was Gail Vorbach. Gail had read Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones and suggested we set up a writing booth in the Student Center and offer Spontaneous Poetry for 25 cents a pop. Several folks participated in the writing end of things, and numerous customers plucked down their quarter for a poem. We kept no copies of our poems, just gave them over to the customers. It was a freeing experience, and a rare writing experience for me—as I always revise my writing (sometimes as much as fifty rewrites!)

So I’m feeling nostalgic. Here’s the concept. Each Friday (or at least once a week) I’m going to write a Spontaneous Poem for this blog. I will post it as a scan of the handwritten page. The poem will never be revised further. And I am inviting my readers and friends to command the assignment. Give me a topic or challenge. Anything goes. Email your assignment to me any time between Wednesday and Friday. I might do more than one per week if I have time. But I’ll start with the first one that arrives that week. I don’t want to have much time to think about the assignment, so don’t send it earlier than Wednesday. Any questions? Email me at thebeardedpoet at hot mail dot com!

For today’s Spontaneous Poem, I simply randomly selected three words from my word envelopes (one noun, one verb, one adjective).

Swipe Judicious Violet

I give this poem away! If any of you finds anything of interest here, feel free to take it, claim it as your own. Also feel free to steal the idea of Spontaneous Poetry. I hope to see your booth at the next craft fair!


Anonymous said...

i love your idea. it reminds me of when i was in Minneapolis. i was drinking and homeless and broke but i would beg enough to drink and sometimes there would be some change leftover. i had a notebook full of writings and the public library had a typewriter room with 8 minutes on a typer for 25 cents. well, you cant rewrite in that time, and i was pissed... so i put notebook away and just banged some shit out. no more pretense or curliques. no more flowers and green pain. just someone doing what they could not help doing, and paying a quarter a poem to do so.keep it up. i dont like flowers in my poems but we all do what we got to. said...

So it comes to me, at last
awakening slowly, the door bursts open

No more will I question the intent
no more will I wonder why
My resolve is full, I have to try

If I believe, it is true
If it is true, so then will I do
My heart beckons to break free
Free of the lowliness that is the rest of me

Calm now, my mind subdued
Laying in the grass, a sea of stars
my simple interlude
Time slowed, then stopped
I cannot remember the hour
The words are on my lips
My soul is given the power