Radical acts of summarization

March 12, 2007

I just got done with the first meeting of my one week, one credit workshop with the visiting writer this semester, a poet and translator who is widely known in avant garde poetry circles. She has a pretty adorable German accent, if such a thing exists, and a quiet, intense, yet not overbearing energy. She also is older than I expected, which is really nice in a way, a good reminder that poetry really can lead to a well-lived life. The exercises we did (turning a ten line poem into a three line poem, doing a Fibonacci sequence thing with sentences, and a tripped out acronym thing) were actually really fun and even generated some vaguely intelligible poetry. The assignment for Wednesday is to take a poem we have already written and cut it in half and then cut it in half again, using only words that are already there. Should be fun in a maniacal kind of way, and it reminds of a story that I listened to on Selected Shorts last year about an English major who moved back to her small town after graduation and started writing a novel about her town. Then she just started condensing it: novel, novella, short story, poem, haiku, aphorism: “Small town undergoes many changes, yet endures.” If I had more energy in my brain or my general physical self right now, I’d try to ruminate on the urge to summarize and the toe hold that extreme summarization seems to be gaining even in the realms of academia, but I’ve got to go home and read some more MHK Fifth Book of Peace. And chop up a poem.

Why so tired? Well, last week my sister was here and that led to a lot of late and alcohol laden nights with scary movies. Lots of fun, but by the time I got to Archives class at 9am on Saturday morning in South Beach, it was catching up with me. Then yesterday, instead of sleeping in, we sunscreened up and headed to church to help the youth group w/ their car wash fundraiser. By the time that was over, we started a mad dash of shopping and cooking for D’s bro’s 23rd birthday, which went off smashingly despite no actual food being ready when the first guests started arriving. But by 8pm, everything was in full swing and continued so until the candles got blown out at 10:30. I now feel like the queen of carrot cake, so any future visitors beware, I might bake you carrot cake. I was so high on life (a day of solid and outward-oriented effort, a good party, a good meal) that I barely noticed how tired I was on the ride back to Boca at midnight, but I definitely noticed this morning when Daniel’s new Razr started ringing it’s little alarm.

So wait, why don’t I make an avant gard poem out of this:



cannot wake up with out coffee and creamer or my brain rots.

(can you see how all the lines start with “c” and end with “s”?)

Enough of that, back to MHK. And better make that some coffee too.


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