Archive for the ‘poetry’ Category

First poem of summer

Friday, June 21st, 2013

Like all lake side pebbles, stones

I become restless. The sea

is not from here and I am not from the sea

 

though I know what blue is and

waves that shatter the shore, a slow

shatter of my smooth surface

 

of the sky that cannot help

but grin back. It is a hopeless

thing, this touch of water

 

and air. Sometimes I wish

I could float out, far toward an

island that I can never see

 

and speak some language

so distant and cunning

that I could never get back.

 

(first draft)

This is what happens when I start reading about postmodern poetry for my comps. I totally start writing poems. It is like when I read about pedagogy, I totally start revising my own. Hopefully all this work pays off as much as any type of note taking would, which of course I am also doing.

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New Media and Creative Writing

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

I’ve been a “creative writer” for as long as I can remember. I remember writing stories before I started writing poems. I wrote a novella when I was in elementary school in the vein of Stephen King and I’ll admit I learned about subplots from him and characterization, and I probably even borrowed some characters from him, but gave them different names, altered storylines, but nonetheless sampled, to an extent. If you care, the novella was a blend of something King-esque and influences by Audrey Rose (book, not film), which I know sounds terribly similar.

But because of this, and because of my current studies, I’m working on linking new media and creative writing in efforts to further legitimize it as a field. There are reasons for doing this, such as establishing a stronger site identity for creative writing in the university (honestly, how often do you see a creative writing department?) and giving it some sound theoretical grounding (craft criticism, using OOO with poetics, theories of authorship studies and new media, for example). I’m using the four areas suggested by Adam Koehler in “Digitizing Craft: Creative Writing and New Media: A proposal” which are 1. process, 2. genre, 3. authorship and 4. institutionality.

But my question is the following: if one were to link new media and creative writing to further legitimize it as a field of study, what should it even be called? What do creative writers think of the term “creative writing” itself? For example, the word creativity usually implies “original” and that sets off all kinds of ideas about things like the muse, voice, etc.

In thinking about this in terms of Koehler’s essay, he uses the term “Digital Creative Writing Studies.” He uses the term “digital” to imply how genres and authorship expand, mutate, an resist in digital spaces. He uses the term “studies” so we can build theory into the practice of creative writing, and link this all to pedagogy and build these bridges and expand these ideas.

While I don’t mind the phrasing of “Digital Creative Writing Studies”, I am certainly not attached and think we can find other terms as well. I’m also questioning this since there is more than “writing” done in a digital environment, so should we even use that term? Or is it still ok because we are still talking/thinking/doing writing, as a primary activity, even though we are working in new media environments. The word creative also a loaded term since it implies being original, though creative writing is thought to be creative in that it refers to being innovative, thoughtful, sampling, and using the tools available to create something as a form of self-expression or for sharing with others or both, and most often both. And creativity is one of those terms that may mean different things to different people. And in this sense, I may be oversimplifying the term “creative” and “creativity.” (Hint: I probably am.)

So today I started experimenting with others terms one could use. Such as New Media Creative Writing, New Media Creative Writing Studies (so long, I know, but it respects both new media and creative writing, which is really an important term that would be hard to get away from) and New Media Craft Studies and for a brief wonderful moment, Digital Craft studies, though there is a lot about digital craft.

But maybe terminology is no big thing, though it really is, at least in a university. Terminology is also a double edged sword in that once you create it, you cannot get away from it. But Creative Writing, as a field, does need to legitimize itself, which is why I focus (and why Koehler focuses) on the four areas that we do. By looking at process, authorship, genre, and the institution of creative writing in the university, we can build that. But terminology seems important as well, even though this may be premature.

I hate it when I answer my own questions. I think I just did there.

But all the same, if you are a creative writer, I would love to know what you think about the following terms:

  1. Creativity/Creative
  2. Creative Writing as a term/institution in the university
  3. Digital spaces/new media

Never feel the need to answer all of those things. Pick something important. Say something about it. We are in need of voices (no pun intended), scholarship and discourse around these things in creative writing departments. 

Dissertation Case Study #1: The Generative Poetry Workshop

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

For my dissertation research, I’m looking at issues of authorship in creative writing, namely how creative writing students view revision (some creative writers are notorious in choosing to not revise) and invention (where the heck does my creative work come from?). I started out thinking about voice in writing, but decided that was complicated and also figured that I couldn’t begin to talk about that unless I understood invention and revision adequately. And those two things have really become my focus in authorship theory and studies. With all this in mind, last night I attended the first class of the semester which was obviously a lot of introductory material for the course.

What I found most relevant from this first day was the views of invention we were given during class. The first video was from Eat Pray Love author Elizabeth Gilbert who spoke about “the elusive creative genius”. During her talk, I kept thinking back to my undergraduate creative writing days and how inspired I would have felt after hearing her discussion about creativity and genius. I probably would have wanted to leave class immediately and start writing, which I recall feeling quite a bit during creative writing classes. And, of all the TED talks we viewed, I felt this was the most interesting in terms of her conceptions of invention and authorship.

The way the workshop will be run is also going to be extremely useful in what I am studying. If you know anything about the traditional writing workshop, which honestly has not changed dramatically since the late 19th century, the workshop is primarily peer review. It is critique. It is about teaching yourself how to correctly write a poem or any piece of creative writing. It is about fitting in, you could say. This workshop is different in a number of ways. This workshop is far more generative, for one, since it commits students to writing as much work as they can during a given semester. The workshop is also focused more on the writer. For instance, in a traditional workshop, the writer has to be quiet, not say anything, and listen to what each person has to say about his or her writing. When I was telling Dr. Strand about this process yesterday during our meeting about my research, he looked at me as if that was the worst possible and craziest idea for creativity he had ever heard, and I think he is probably correct in that assessment. But this workshop gets away from that. Instead, the writer has time to talk about what he or she wanted to do in the poem, about problems he or she is having in writing the poem, about how inspired the poem, and other questions regarding the writing process. Other students listen to this and instead giving a “cold reading” of the poem in class, they get five minutes to ask further questions of the writer, of which the writer can choose to answer or not answer. Then, within five days, the other writers respond to the work via a blog and let the writer know how they can further work on the poem.

Will this work, you might ask, especially if students are so used to and comfortable with the traditional workshop? I don’t know, but I don’t see anything wrong with making students uncomfortable since people tend to learn a lot when they become less comfortable in a situation. You learn a lot from doing old things in new ways. I think the time in class will definitely be useful where I, and other students, get to hear about the actual process of invention, revision, and creativity. That part is the most exciting element of this, at least for me as a creative writer and a researcher in this class. I confess that as a creative writing student I wanted nothing more than to explain what I wanted to do with my work, why I wanted to do that, and how it even got to this point. I wanted to say something during the workshop process. And with that in mind, I think this whole idea is liberating.

I also confess that it is liberating to sit in a class and be able to participate and not have to be evaluated on my participation. As a researcher, my participation will most likely be minimal, but I think this is an exciting idea, and so I do want to participate on some level. Plus, as the researcher, I think it will only benefit my work if I do take part in these activities. That way, I have a first hand experience with it and can better articulate how to better the process and/or discuss why it works or doesn’t.

Either way, I am excited for this opportunity and I am glad I took it, even though I am going to be busy and exhausted, but I am sure I will learn quite a lot through this process. And I hope to learn a number of things: 1. I’d like to learn how we can combine, or at least build a bridge, between CW and Composition pedagogies and 2. I’d like to learn how we can improve CW pedagogy through the workshop process. Really, I think this is a promising start.

Poetry and Object Oriented Ontology

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

I’m working on a paper on how one can perform an object-oriented ontology on poetry. While I won’t say much more about it than that, I’ll share one of the poems I am analyzing through OOO and give you a little information on how I did that from the paper I am working on.

THE CRATE by Francis Ponge 

Midway between cage and cachot, or cell, the French has cageot, a simple little open-slatted crate devoted to the transport of fruit that is sure to sicken at the slightest hint of suffocation. Devised in such a way that after use it can easily be broken down, it never serves twice. Thus its life-span is shorter even than that of the perishables it encloses.

So, at the corners of every street leading to the market, it gleams with the unassuming lustre of slivered pine. Still brand new and somewhat aghast at the awkward situation, dumped irretrievably on the public thoroughfare, this object is most appealing, on the whole — yet one whose fate doesn’t warrant our overlong attention.

In this object prose poem of Ponge’s, human perspective does not exist. Instead, the reader only knows the experience of the crate as a crate, which makes it open to an object oriented ontological reading. In this poem, the object laments how it is only used once, for the purpose of containing and transporting fruit. The crate in the poem can be read through OOO as Bogost writes that this type of reading, “illustrate[s] the perspective of objects” and the poem focuses solely on the perspective of the crate (Bogost 109). In other words, the reader of this poem never learns of any human perspective regarding the crate. In this poem, the crate carries its own perspective, which it shares within the poem.

The object is also related to its purposes and other objects around it, which is what invites an OOO reading of the poem. After all, much of Bogost’s descriptions of what OOO is relates to the experience of objects in regards to purposes and how that object relates to other objects around it. Part of the idea of flat ontology is that “all objects equally exist, but the do not exist equally” (Bogost 11). In Ponce’s poem, the crate and the fruit equally exist. Each is an object and so each exists in a similar way. But in the poem the crate laments the fact that it will not outlast the fruit it carries, which will eventually spoil. The lines “[d]evised in such a way that after use it can easily be broken down, it never serves twice. Thus its life-span is shorter even than that of the perishables it encloses” remind the reader that the crate is simply a secondary object in comparison to the fruit it holds.  In this sense, the fruit seems more important than the crate. The crate is simply the mode of transport for the fruit and that is all that there is to it.

In this sense, the poem “The Crate” is a perfect example of how the universe is organized. While both the fruit and the crate exist, they do not exist equally. The fruit serves a greater purpose since humans rely on it for nourishment. The crate is simply the object the fruit arrives in. With this, object-oriented ontology demonstrates to readers how perspective is gained. If one examines the role of objects in comparison to other objects, one can better uncover preconceived notions, values and ideals that human beings hold. In other words, we order the world according to the objects around us and how we use and understand those objects and how those objects relate to other objects. But only through disseminating this information can we begin to articulate what Bogost means when he states, “all objects exist, but do not exist equally” (11).

Blur

Sunday, November 11th, 2012

Through the blur of beer I watch a woman’s shadow

at the bar as her hand hesitates

over a phone and the voice

of the bartender interrupts whatever

each of us was thinking about in

this movement of a moment,

our almost final glass.

Reflection for poetry challenge

Sunday, November 11th, 2012

Poetry Reflection—Grand Challenge

When I first decided to take the challenge to write poems in a public space where I thought people were creative, I felt a little hesitant. For one, I had never written creative writing in public before. The few times I had actually written a poem in public was when I either felt I had a good line for a poem in mind or when I was killing time as I waited for someone, so the idea of actually going to a public place to write a poem felt a little uncomfortable. I had fears that I wouldn’t be able to write anything. I felt I might look pretentious sitting there alone writing a poem in the black Moleskine notebook I carry around (and honestly, I probably do look pretentious doing that). I felt I simply wouldn’t be able to write anything I liked because when I write a poem, I tend to pace around a lot and I imagined that would look awkward in public and probably even cause some concern.

While I didn’t pace around the HoDo, I still managed to do some writing there. I was also surprised at the wide array of topics I found, images I thought about, and events I witnessed. While writing, I witnessed a lot of things happening, like a birthday party, a business meeting, a woman trying to balance work and motherhood as she talked on the phone to a business client while putting a coat on her daughter, and a transmitter blowing causing the building to run at half-power. It is obvious that I would find a lot to write about, as not a whole lot changes around my apartment, but I had just never consistently written about my experiences in a particular setting before while I was there.

While I composed two poems for my mini challenge, I composed three for my grand challenge. (I wanted to do four, but it was getting expensive.) Each of these poems comments on something that happened while I was at the HoDo, though I do make some information up, which I suppose is the poetic license portion of this exercise. While I do take instances from what I see around me, I do still make up a few things as I compose the poem. Sometimes I do this just to keep the poem going, like the time I saw the lady put on her daughter’s coat while talking on the phone and then leaving. While that is what I saw, that moment changed in the poem, Songs. It didn’t fit the way the poem started and so I changed it to the speaker of the poem seeing a woman’s leg move out from the booth and put on her coat to leave. I never mentioned the daughter because it did not fit the poem. And when I write a poem, I confess changes like this occur a fair amount, though the poem usually “takes off” from something real and something I witnessed.

From this exercise, I learned to take my poetry and other creative writing out in public more often. While I had never done much serious creative writing in public, I realized I need to do more of that because of the instances of life I see move around me and how that influences my writing. Plus, I like the connection it builds with and to the poem. What I mean when I say that last sentence is that there is this new intimacy that seems to happen when I compose a poem in public about a particular space I inhabit. I become a part of that space and that space echoes in the poem I am writing and I think that is a powerful thing.

I also cannot help but recall a past conversation I had with a friend. We were discussing how poetry has become abstract–and that abstraction has caused poets to lose their audience. Perhaps by using space (and place) in the composition of a poem will strengthen our poetry by making it less abstract and more accessible. For example, teachers still teach the poems of Robert Frost not only because he was a master at the metaphor, but also because he is one of our most accessible American poets. I think this is something to consider, especially since so much of what we write can be easily made available online to many readers. It is time we think more about making our words and our metaphors accessible, but this does not mean we make poetry more “simplistic.” In fact, it is quite different from that. Instead, this should challenge us to make our language more identifiable by our audience and to consider images and metaphors that resonate on a wider plane.

As a side note, there is a book I can read about the poetics of space titled, obviously enough, _The Poetics of Space_ by Gaston Bauchelard.

Songs

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

Songs

There is a sad sounding song

something Midwestern

on the radio above this booth.

My friend stirs his drink silent

looking into it as if reading

for a future no one can name

I think of how I could sit here

telling him about men I used to know

or the poems I plan to write

But I know that a woman talking about men

from weeks ago is about as bad as a poet

talking about unwritten poems

I sit in a silence equal to his and watch

a woman’s leg burst out from the black

cut of a skirt as she puts on her coat and

the song ends as I order another oatmeal stout,

silently promising myself this is my last one,

this bitter beer as cold and distant as the Midwest.

HoDo, October 15, 2012

Jessica Jorgenson

Artist Date #3/ Grand Challenge

Weather and Ghosts

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

Weather and Ghosts

arriving late out from the grey

rain that is two days old now

I step into the half dark bar

as a waitress who is almost like a friend

tells me the transmitter blew

and we are all running on half power

I want to explain to her that the almost

dark is calming like something

a person can sink into

then wake up from

this new half dark

reminds me about the nights I stayed up late

with the MFA poetry crew

whose ghosts now still sit in these booths

they are the silent ghosts I chase here

as I rehearse our old conversations in my mind

about this writing life and where exactly

we will go from this night, this bar.

HoDo, October 18, 2012

Jessica Jorgenson

Artist Date #4/Grand Challenge

Somewhere

Sunday, October 21st, 2012

somewhere

 

My suspicion of you is as heavy

as a loaded gun locked

right next to a stranger’s temple

in another city somewhere

 

probably a place you nor I

have ever visited and yet talk about

as easy as we talk about the weather, drugs

or why it hurts so bad when we laugh

 

almost to the point of tears and reach

that place we cannot breathe as easy

as the day before, so we briefly hesitate as

the gun unloads in sudden smoke somewhere

Missing Ireland

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

Missing Ireland

A man behind me complains

about the most expensive coffee

in town. I wonder why

he is here at all. His voice

echoes, brisk as waves off

the Ireland coast, but

carrying the local.

I order fish and chips

because I miss Ireland and

nothing here feels like it. I want

to tell the man about Ireland, about

how the cold spreads its fingers to

your bones but unlike the northern Midwest

wind you will find warmth again.

It is the green, I want to tell him, the

green warms you with the sun that

spreads blue then yellow and then you

see, I want to say to him, and then

just as the cold evaporates like

a fog you see the warmth rise

and fall around you in these little notes.