Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Is This a Poem? Does It Say (or Mean?) Anything?


the of and a to in is you
that it he for was on
are as with his they at
be this from I have or by
one had not but what all were
when we there can an your
which their said if do will each
about how up out them
then she many some so these
would other into has more
her two like him see time
could no make than first
been its who now people
my made over did down
only way find use may water
long little very after words
called just where most know


Radish King said...

It is if you say it is a poem, then it's a poem. To my ear, however, it lacks music in spots such as can an your, which their said, would other into. Just read these lines in a mirror and watch your mouth contort. The sounds are flat, out of tune. For me a poem, first and foremost, must have music. But that's just me.

Radish King said...

I might also call it a lyric line but I would mean more in terms of music and art than in terms of poetry. I'm kind of retarded that way but you know how it's all smushed together in my head.

Radish King said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Peter said...

. . . extra points if you can guess the constraint this is based upon.

The Sublibrarian said...

I'd say yes, but not a particularly interesting one. The music is lacking for me, too, as it is in a lot of post/avant work.

What's interesting about it, though, is the way the mind snags on little bits here and there that seem like parts of phrases, begins to construct the phrase, and then gets pulled up short. Perloff, in _Radical Artifice_, does a wonderful job of showing how langpo exploits this sort of reader experience to larger, more significant ends.

There's an interesting section (OK, interesting perhaps only to me) in Culler's _Structuralist Poetics_ in which he prints a poem, discusses some possible readings of it, and then reveals that the poem is part of a news story that he broke into lines. His point being not that anything is a poem but that the very act of framing something as a poem brings a different set of conventions and expectations into play than reading a news story. Derrida makes a similar point in "The Law of Genre" when he points to the duality of genre labels--they exist outside of the work while at the same time colonizing, and thus inhabiting, the interior of the work. Same point as Culler's, I think, but a different metaphor.

Apologies for the theorist dropping, but that's the way my head works.

Emily Lloyd said...

I once went to a "naked party" that devolved rather quickly into a group love-in (yes, I left to go dancing when it became clear that fluids might soon be involved [grin]). This is a poem, and it tells that story, among, I'm sure, others.

Emily Lloyd said...

PS--the music was also lacking at that party.

Peter said...

Em: Hahaha. That gave me a good laugh.

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Pamela said...

Hazarding a guess--the most frequently used words in English? in your book? in something else you've written?

Let us know...

Peter said...

Yes Pamela: It's the fifty most common words in English, used in order of frequency.

Steven D. Schroeder said...

Parts of it are interesting when the words have a ghost of sense about them ("that it he for was on," "her two like him see time," "called just where most know," etc.). Other parts are wordsplat. :-)

The Sublibrarian said...

How about trying a different principle of selection? Say, the 50 most frequent substantives or the 50 most frequent verbs? I suspect it'll provide more of a sense of the piece "saying" something. Kind of the way that deconstructing Bush's speech "said" something.

There's a piece in Bernsteins's The Sophist that consists of nouns from the DSM-III, if memory serves. In alphabetical order, of course. It's mostly "wordsplat" as Steven puts it, but has a few more hooks on which to try and hang a meaning than the piece above.

Peter said...

Great ideas. Thx.