Earl Gray

Earl Gray
"You can argue with me but, in the end, you'll have to face that fact that you're arguing with a squirrel." - Earl Gray

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Writing Postmodern Poetry

While counterintuitive to some naive souls, this is a procedure that, if strictly followed, should get you through the modern poetry module of any English, MFA or Creative Writing course. The key is to write your poems two at a time. To wit:

1. Take two unrelated autobiographies or philosophy texts.

2. Turn to page 43 of each book.

3. Highlight any sentences or phrases that baffle or annoy you.

4. Copy these until you have a found poem [that should have stayed lost].

5. Repeat #3 and #4 using page 77 from each tome to create a second poem.

6. Using the Computer Assisted Translation ("CAT") program of your choice, translate the two poems into a second language of your choice.

7. Again using a CAT, translate them back into English.

8. Repeat #6 and #7, using a different language, until the syntax is sufficiently distorted.

9. If any foreign words linger, leave them in place for that je ne sais quoi effect.

10. Insert linebreaks at random.

11. Remove 75% of the periods, replacing them with conjunctions, semicolons or em dashes.

12. If the poem is boring, replace the remaining 25% of the periods with exclamation marks.

13. Switch the last sentences of your two poems.

14. Scan to ensure that no string of 8 or more syllables forms a pattern.

15. Try to employ all 44 sounds in the English language before repeating any.

16. Spell check.

17. Resist any temptation to grammar check.

18. Eschew adjectives, adverbs, footnotes, preambles, plotlines, deconstruction or deodorant.

19. Submit the less coherent of your two poems.

20. Report your results here. You owe that much to science.

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