Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Writing into the Future: HWK

In-class writing prompt: 
Write a poem (for your eyes only):
"A letter to your future ___________________"
(Fill in the blank - future spouse, child, grandchild, generations, etc.)

You may choose - or discover that words/lines from this prompt will end up in your poem next Wednesday. 

Austin Kleoon on NPR
HWK: Find a news article - cut it out/print it out -
and blackout words with a Sharpie/marker -
and make a new poem. 

Take inspiration from Austin Kleon's book Blackout 

From Amazon Review
Instead of starting with a blank page, poet Austin Kleon grabs the New York Times and a permanent marker and eliminates the words he doesn’t need. (NPR's Morning Edition) 
One can imagine taking up blackout poetry on their daily bus commute in place of sudoku or the crossword puzzle. (Toronto's National Post) 
Sort of like Michelangelo carving away the marble that imprisoned what he saw within. (Cleveland Plain Dealer) 
“…a kind of Rorschach approach to reading newspapers…” (Wall Street Journal) 
“Highbrow/brilliant…It’s better than it sounds.” (New York magazine)

“[The poems] resurrect the newspaper when everyone else is declaring it dead…like a cross between magnetic refrigerator poetry and enigmatic ransom notes, funny and zen-like, collages of found art…” (The New Yorker) 
“Some of the results are hilarious, some are profound and even unsettling, but they are never bland or boring.”
— Ephemerist 
Newspaper article + sharpie = Newspaper Blackout Poetry: Instead of starting with a blank page, poet Austin Kleon grabs a newspaper and a permanent marker and eliminates the words he doesn’t need. Fans of Not Quite What I Was Planning andPost Secret will love these unique and compelling poems culled from Austin’s popular website.
More blackout poems - examples.

POEMS read in class today:

People of the future
while you are reading these poems, remember
you didn't write them, 
I did. 

To those born later


Truly I live in dark times!
Frank speech is naïve. A smooth forehead 

Suggests insensitivity. The man who laughs 
Has simply not yet heard
The terrible news.

What kind of times are these, when
To talk about trees is almost a crime
Because it implies silence about so many horrors?
When the man over there calmly crossing the street
Is already perhaps beyond the reach of his friends                    10 

Who are in need?

It’s true that I still earn my daily bread
But, believe me, that’s only an accident. Nothing
I do gives me the right to eat my fill.
By chance I've been spared. (If my luck breaks, I'm lost.)

They say to me: Eat and drink! Be glad you have it!
But how can I eat and drink if I snatch what I eat
From the starving
And my glass of water belongs to someone dying of thirst?

And yet I eat and drink.                                                                         20

I would also like to be wise.
In the old books it says what wisdom is:
To shun the strife of the world and to live out
Your brief time without fear
Also to get along without violence
To return good for evil
Not to fulfill your desires but to forget them
Is accounted wise.
All this I cannot do.
Truly, I live in dark times.                                                                      30


I came to the cities in a time of disorder 

When hunger reigned.
I came among men in a time of revolt 

And I rebelled with them.
So passed my time
Given to me on earth.

I ate my food between battles
I lay down to sleep among murderers
I practiced love carelessly
And I had little patience for nature’s beauty.                                 40 
So passed my time
Given to me on earth.

All roads led into the mire in my time.
My tongue betrayed me to the butchers.
There was little I could do. But those is power 

Sat safer without me: that was my hope.
So passed my time
Given to me on earth.

Our forces were slight. Our goal
Lay far in the distance                                                                            50 

Clearly visible, though I myself
Was unlikely to reach it.
So passed my time
Given to me on earth.

You who will emerge from the flood
In which we have gone under
Bring to mind
When you speak of our failings
Bring to mind also the dark times
That you have escaped.                                                                          60

Changing countries more often than our shoes, 
We went through the class wars, despairing 
When there was only injustice, no outrage.

And yet we realized:
Hatred, even of meanness
Contorts the features.
Anger, even against injustice
Makes the voice hoarse. O,
We who wanted to prepare the ground for friendship 

Could not ourselves be friendly.                                                        70

But you, when the time comes at last 
When man is helper to man
Think of us
With forbearance.

Brecht Biography

A Phone Call to the Future

Who says science fiction
is only set in the future?
After a while, the story that looks least
believable is the past.
The console television with three channels.
Black and white picture. Manual controls:
the dial clicks when you turn it, like the oven.
You have to get up and walk somewhere to change things.
You have to leave the house to mail a letter. 
Waiting for letters. The phone rings: you're not there.
You'll never know. The phone rings, and you are,
there's only one, you have to stand or sit
plugged into it, a cord
confines you to the room where everyone
is also having dinner.
Hang up the phone. The family's having dinner. 
Waiting for dinner. You bake things in the oven.
Or Mother does. That's how it always is.
She sets the temperature: it takes an hour. 
The patience of the past.
The typewriter forgives its own mistakes.
You type on top sheet, carbon, onion skin.
The third is yours, a record of typeovers,
clotted and homemade-looking, like the seams
on dresses cut out on the dining table.
The sewing machine. The wanting to look nice.
Girls who made their dresses for the dance.

This was the fifties: as far back as I go.
Some of it lasted decades.
That's why I remember it so clearly. 
Also because, as I lie in a motel room
sometime in 2004, scrolling
through seventy-seven channels on my back
(there ought to be more — this is a cheap motel room),
I can revisit evidence, hear it ringing.
My life is movies, and tells itself in phones. 
The rotary phone, so dangerously languid
and loud when the invalid must dial the police.
The killer coming up the stairs can hear it.
The detective ducks into a handy phone booth
to call his sidekick. Now at least there's touch tone.
But wait, the killer's waiting in the booth
to try to strangle him with the handy cord.
The cordless phone, first noted in the crook
of the neck of the secretary
as she pulls life-saving files.
Files come in drawers, not in the computer.
Then funny computers, big and slow as ovens.
Now the reporter's running with a cell phone
larger than his head,
if you count the antenna. 
They're Martians, all of these people,
perhaps the strangest being the most recent.
I bought that phone. I thought it was so modern.
Phones shrinking year by year, as stealthily
as children growing.

It's the end of the world.
Or people are managing, after the conflagration.
After the epidemic. The global thaw.
Everyone's stunned. Nobody combs his hair.
Or it's a century later, and although
New York is gone, and love, and everyone
is a robot or a clone, or some combination, 
you have to admire the technology of the future.
When you want to call somebody, you just think it.
Your dreams are filmed. Without a camera.
You can scroll through the actual things that happened,
and nobody disagrees. No memory.
No point of view. None of it necessary. 
Past the time when the standard thing to say
is that, no matter what, the human endures.
That whatever humans make of themselves
is therefore human.
Past the transitional time
when humanity as we know it was there to say that.
Past the time we meant well but were wrong.
It's less than that, not any more a concept.
Past the time when mourning was a concept. 
Of course, such a projection,
however much I believe it, is sentimental —
belief being sentimental.
The thought of a woman born
in the fictional fifties. 
That's what I mean. We were Martians. Nothing's stranger
than our patience, our humanity, inhumanity.
Our worrying about robots. Earplug cell phones
that make us seem to be walking about like loonies
talking to ourselves. Perhaps we are. 
All of it was so quaint. And I was there.
Poetry was there; we tried to write it.

Mary Jo Salter
The Georgia Review
Special Focus: Creatures
Volume LIX, Number 3
Fall 2005 

Look to the Future

To you born into violence,
the wars of the red ant are nothing;
you, in the heart of the eruption.

I am speaking from immeasurable grass blades.
You, there on the rubble,
what is the river of vapor to you?

You who are helpless as small birds
downed on the ice pack.
You who are spoiled as
commercial fruit by the medfly.

To you the machine guns.
To you the semen of fire,
the birth of the maggot in the corpse.

You, to whom we send these gifts;
at the heart of light we are crushed together.
When the sun dies we will become one.
Ruth Stone, “Look to the Future” from Simplicity. Copyright © 1995 by Ruth Stone. Reprinted with the permission of Paris Press, Inc.
Source: Simplicity (1995)

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