Go to a restaurant or coffee shop that’s has a decent crowd in it. Ideally, it will be busy enough that there will be multiple conversations going on around you at once. Sit down, open your notebook or laptop, and listen. (And don’t forget to order something to support the establishment!) See what snippets of conversation you can pick out. Write things down. You don’t have to follow just one conversation. In fact, it’s better if you don’t. Pick out sentences, phrases, and words. Write them down as they happen. Let everything be fragmented and disjointed. I recommend listening for at least 30 minutes.
Once you’ve gotten a solid amount of material, you can go one of two ways. First, you can find a phrase or sentence that really resonates with you, and build a story or poem using that as your inspiration. Alternately, you can take your hodgepodge of sentences and create a poem using only what you’ve transcribed.
I mentioned this over at the official Austin Feminist Poetry Festival blog a few weeks ago, but I’ve decided to take a hiatus from the festival this year. The past two years were incredible! However, I’ve just finished a two-year term on the Austin Poetry Society board and I’ve spent the first few months of the year giving a lot of attention to the Texas Poetry Calendar. I’m at the point where I need a break. Plus, since I’m starting my MFA in the fall, I need to focus on my studies–and running a fall festival is not entirely conducive to that!
I also want to restructure the festival, and get it more in line with my larger vision. That requires time. So I’m going to take this year to figure out how I want things to develop.
I do have some smaller events in the works for later this year, so stay tuned…
Write a persona poem from the perspective of a city that has mistaken itself for another. How has it changed its weather, its climate, its flora and fauna. What are the buildings like? Do we know why the city is experiencing this confusion? Can it be resolved?
(Inspired by Saundra Goldman, who posted earlier this week that Austin had apparently mistaken itself for Seattle.)
Back in 2013, I participated in the Tupelo Press 30/30 Project, an ongoing fundraiser for the press in which volunteer poets commit to writing a poem a day for 30 days, and those who are inspired by their work can make donations in their honor.
I had so much fun in 2013 that I knew I wanted to participate again. I’m writing alongside a slew of amazing poets, and having fun. My initial poems have come from The Daily Poet prompts and politics. The title of my Day 4 poem popped into my head while I was washing dishes.
You can check out the May 30/30 poems here. If you’re interested in donating, you can do so here.
With the help of a trusty random number generator, I have determined the winners of the Big Poetry Giveaway!
Jessica Goodfellow won America Zen: A Gathering of Poets
Laurie Kolp won We’re Smaller Than We Think We Are
I also won two books in the giveaway, and I’m thrilled. I always love getting new poetry in the mail.
Keeping it simple this week. A line and a photo:
A happy dog transcends language.
I love getting to collaborate with other poets, and I love the way technology facilitates collaboration over great distances. This week, I’ve been working with my friend Jason Crane (who lives in Pennsylvania) on a collaborative exercise from the first volume of Wingbeats: Exercises and Practice in Poetry.
I don’t post my own poems all that often, but here’s our first iteration of the exercise (Jason gets credit for all the final formatting):