Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Dramatic Poetry

Matthew Sweeney’s Guardian workshop invites participants to choose from 10 opening lines from W. S. Graham poems and use one of them to write a poem characterised by drama – deadline 12 August.

I’m going to write ten poems, one for each line – one each day, starting tomorrow, and I’ll post them daily to this blog.

Once I’ve written eight (by 9th August), I’m going to revise the best two or three from 10th-12th August and submit the best of these to the workshop. Then I’ll write the remaining two poems on the 13th and 14th.

Why? Because I think something good will come of it. I have a feeling. Maybe just one really strong poem, maybe more, who knows? Heh, maybe none.

If any of you want to join me, go for it. You can make up your own schedule, starting and finishing whenever you like, and you can use the opening lines in any order. The only rule is that the daily draft poem can’t take you any more than one hour to write – that doesn’t include thinking time, scribbling occasional ideas etc.

The available opening lines are:

Imagine a forest

I leave this at your ear for when you wake

Whatever you've come here to get

Shut up, shut up. There's nobody here.

Meanwhile surely there must be something to say

I called today, Peter, and you were away.

This morning I am ready if you are

Gently disintegrate me

Just for the sake of recovering

I have my yellow boots on to walk


Colin Will said...

Thanks for this Rob. Not sure if I can match your schedule, but I've written one, over on Sunny Dunny.

Mark Y said...

W.S Graham is a great poet, if sporadic. I was very tempted to quote from the end of 'Johann Joachim Quantz’s Five Lessons' in your recent post requesting 'something that expresses what writing means to you' but I do not think of myself as a poet-proper quite yet; I just love the poem.

What can I say more?
Do not be sentimental or in your Art.
I will miss you. Do not expect applause.

Ben Wilkinson said...

Many thanks for this, Rob; I'm going to try and match your schedule for sure. Do let me know what you think of the stuff I post. Happy writing!

Rob said...

Best of luck, folks.

Mark, by "poet" I mean only "someone who writes poetry," although I appreciate that, to others, the word means something much grander. I really like JJQ's Five Lessons too.

Matt Merritt said...

Unfortunately I'm a bit snowed under at the moment, but there's a lot of great opening lines there, aren't there?
I've saved them to do something with when I've got more time. I'll be interested to see what everyone writes.

Matt Merritt said...

I was thinking about this over lunch. I've read at least two collections over the last couple of years that have featured this sort of thing, with the poet taking someone else's first line and running with it. Trouble is, I can't remember what they are! I don't suppose anyone can suggest any?
Looking at the first lines, it struck me that several of them could have come from the same poem. When I get time, I might try writing a poem including them all, or more likely just writing a linked set of poems starting with each one.

Julie Carter said...

Neat challenge idea. I haven't written anything but a couple of hay(na)ku in months, but I might give it a whirl.

Cailleach said...

I like your taking up of the Guardian challenge like this. Fortunately this time, they are allowing more time than they usually do.

Rob said...

Good luck, everyone!

Matt - Maybe Super Try Again was one of the books you’re thinking of? I haven’t yet bought a copy and really must do so.

RcL said...

Super Try Again has a poem ('Poem Beginning With a Line by Roddy Lumsden') which subverts this idea. The first line is mine, the remaining nine lines were taken from the work of other poets. I believe the proper term for this is 'mosaic verse'.

All the poems in the chapbook take their starting points from other texts / conversations.

RcL said...

Here it is... lineation not great.

Poem Beginning With a Line By Roddy Lumsden

Each thinks the other blind -
his mouth was mobile and he had crooked teeth;
slowly - in a tight dress, cheating at truth -
her voice has gone the way of her orchestra.
Night covers the pond with its wing.

How does it tilt then? In the direction of the ending:
as dusk came poor across the river, shimmering
under feint of stars in the dazzling rays,
making so much of this life seem invisible
and recorded as the memoirs of sad kings.

Rob said...

Well, I've put a cheque in an envelope today and will post it this afternoon. It does look interesting.

Matt Merritt said...

I found one of the poems I was thinking of last night, It's in Roy Fisher's The Long And The Short Of It.
I've been enjoying reading your poems, Rob, and Ben's, and will try to post a bit more on individual pieces later. It's definitely an interesting process, though. I've had very quick stabs at three so far; "Imagine a forest...", "Just for the sake of recovering" and "I called today, Peter...". The first got a bit tangled and confused, but might be worth working on. The other two I was pretty pleased with - they went off in directions I definitely hadn't predicted.