Sunday, April 16, 2006

Caffeine High!

I’m jacked up on caffeine right now. The Starbucks barista messed up and fixed me a Grande rather than the Venti that I paid for. So, I received two drinks for the price of one! I’ve finished the Grande, and I’m half way through the Venti. Zip bang!

I had a moderately good morning revising two poems (one of them is almost finished I think), and I started a new one. The new one will be a companion poem to another poem I finished revising recently. I think it will be very interesting to see how the two points of view on the same slice of time and subject matter will conflict and complement one another.

Somewhere I thought I read that the word “stanza” means “room” from the Italian. I’m seeing in my dictionaries that stanza’s root is “stance” and harkens back to Latin (of course because Italian is a Romance language). However, if I use an online English to Italian free translation service and type in “room” it comes out as “stanza” in Italian. I rather like thinking of stanzas as rooms. They are akin to paragraphs in prose. I’ve noticed in my work that unless I’m working in a two to four line stanza that I usually don’t run my sentences into the next stanza for flow. Instead, I tend to use my stanzas as paragraphs or rooms and any flow has to be within the stanza through stanza-contained enjambment. In my longer stanzas (say nine to twelve lines for a stanza), the stanzas feel like building blocks. I build my poem one block at a time. Stanzas are handy when it comes to wanting to make a transition in time or thought or modulate tone or change speakers or change the point of view.

I’ve also been thinking about how language is a type of shorthand when it comes to reading a poem or a piece of fiction. The author puts these symbols on paper that correspond (often vaguely) to things in “the real world,” and the reader responds to the stimuli of the symbols and their generally agreed upon meanings to fill in the rest or flesh out more concrete details than what the author has actually suggested on paper. I’m thinking here about what goes on subtly when we read and create images in our minds.

Does anyone else feel like this when it comes to creative writing and contemplating the pleasures of the imagination? Sometimes I feel like a god when I write. Not omniscient. Not omnipotent. Not omnipresent, but I do revel in the power and endless possibilities of a blank page. Anything can happen on the page. I can surprise myself (i.e., “No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader.”) and what I put on the paper is made in my own image.

Give me the place to stand, and a lever long enough, and I will move the Earth!

--Attributed to Archimedes

Archimedes is talking here about levers and fulcrums, and this quote is frequently referred to as Archimedes’ Point or an Archimedean Point.

I say:

Give me reams of paper, and a pen with enough ink, and I will create a world!

or (a 21st century version):

Give me a laptop with enough memory, a quiet place to work, and I will create a world!


Interesting blog entry copied from Kelli Russell Agodon blog:

Overheard Advice and a Couple of Extra Cents Tossed into the Fountain
I recently heard some advice one artist gave to another and I thought it applied to the poetry world as well. She said,

Regarding your work--just do what you do best and wait your turn.

In poetry there are many trends and it's easy to be pulled in. It's easy to line up behind another, more difficult to start the line, yet we each need to be at the beginning of our own line. I'm not saying don't experiment, copy, steal, explore a way of writing that is different than your own style, but make it your own. Follow, just stand next to the poet you're following and not behind.


My caffeine high is now wearing off. Time to sign off and hunt and forage for some lunch.


At 4:27 PM, Blogger marybid said...

Somewhere I thought I read that the word “stanza” means “room” from the Italian.

I hope this is true, because otherwise I have been lying to students for ten years...

I like that quote from KRA's blog. Thanks!


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