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I may have broken my brain.

This Friday through Sunday, I'll be attending the Philadelphia Writer's Conference in Philadelphia, PA. On Saturday and Sunday morning, I'm signed up to take a poetry intensive with noted poet and writer, A.V. Christie. To say I am excited about it is an understatement.

Please add to that excitement the additional conditions of "nervousness" and "fear", after I got an email advising me to (a) bring a short poem along to the workshop on Saturday morning and (b) read an essay by William Carlos Williams on "The Poem as a Field of Action".

(a) I am understandably nervous about sharing any of my work in front of someone with Christie's bona fides and

(b) I am both nervous and frightened about what I've gotten myself into as a result of the Williams essay, which is, in my opinion, a difficult slog through swamps of bloviation, with pockets of poetic jealousy. I was prepared to be enthralled by Williams, you see. He's known for such concise poems, full of imagery and such. His essay is . . . not that. It is meandering and in some places so full of digressions that he never comes back to his main point, which appears to be, if I have sussed it out correctly after spending more than two hours reading the essay and tracking down the stuff he references in parentheses to himself about Proust and modern physics and poems by other people, is this: We ought to consider changing the structure of poetry itself and not be bound by archaic forms (and metric feet), and we ought to write using plain American English, a point that Williams plainly forgot when writing this essay, which he delivered to a roomful of college students in 1958. I can only imagine that they all fled the room afterwards in puzzlement. Either that, or Williams boiled it down and stated things more clearly in person.

And now, to re-read the essay. Because it was assigned, and is therefore, I presume, somehow important.

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( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 3rd, 2014 12:46 am (UTC)
Don't be nervous. Anything you write can stand up to anything and shine to boot.
Jun. 3rd, 2014 01:54 pm (UTC)
Tanks, Terri. You're the best!
Jun. 3rd, 2014 03:04 am (UTC)
It will be fabulous and you will be fabulous. I'm sure of it.

The Philadelphia Writer's conference is great. I remember when you and I went many years ago. I went in 2012 and 2013 but am not going this year. Enjoy it!

Jun. 3rd, 2014 01:55 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Rita - I appreciate the vote of confidence. Sorry not to be seeing you there, though!
Jun. 3rd, 2014 05:59 pm (UTC)
That is a tough essay...for some lighter reading here is my favorite parody of Williams' "This is Just to Say" (which I am sure you are quite familiar with.

Good luck this weekend!

Variations on a Theme by William Carlos Williams

This is just to say…

I chopped down the house that you had been saving to live in next summer.
I am sorry, but it was morning, and I had nothing to do
And its wooden beams were so inviting.

We laughed at the hollyhocks together
And then I sprayed them with lye.
Forgive me. I simply do not know what I am doing.

I gave away the money that you had been saving to live on for the next ten years.
The man who asked for it was shabby
And the firm March wind on the porch was so juicy and cold.

Last evening we went dancing and I broke your leg.
Forgive me. I was clumsy, and
I wanted you here in the wards, where I am the doctor!
Jun. 5th, 2014 07:03 pm (UTC)
He was just so rambly and opaque in that essay. It really caught me off-guard, given how concise and concrete his poems are!

My friend Joyce Sidman did an (award-winning) picture book of poems entitled THIS IS JUST TO SAY, wherein she wrote a bunch of poems that are attributed to different kids in a middle-school classroom. It's awesome.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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