EXPERIMENTAL POEM

writing the confessional poemIntroduction

Experimental poetry: some simple examples.

The Acer: Starting

'Experimental' covers a plethora of literary work, much of it not obviously poetry, or even depending on words. In this exercise, we start with a line that really doesn't make sense, but seemed important at the time, continually asserting itself and demanding to be answered:

And there are lanes you go down at odd times, that are fragmentary

Presumably, the times are fragmentary, rather than the lanes, and yet a certain uncomfortable feeling kept transferring itself to my memory of English lanes, though I could not see why.

Suppose, rather than work this through into meaning by writing a recognizable poem, we simply jot down lines and phrases as they suggested themselves:

And there are lanes you go down at odd times, fragmentary
with other matters, graying over and perhaps not noticing the broken
paling, the roadsigns missing or the ache like old leather from the tarmac,
until it hits you, not immediately, not in fact for most people for a long
time do they see pass the sky with its proprietary bundles of clouds
and elements, and the trees stand in apostolic succession, and across
the stripped lawn where the acer is mouldering into purple so that conceptions
may hold on to that most delicate of foliages, endlessly depicted as
accommodating and up-springing from a brush night-thick with ink but
also to its tip delicate and responsive to each passing breath.

And that's as far as we should take this stage. As soon as we start 'sorting out', the form will take over, which in our case we want to be partly visual. Some suggestions:

1. Break into lines with lengths suggested by their content:

and there are lanes you go down fragmentary
with other matters
graying and not noticing the broken
paling
the roadsigns missing
the ache like old leather in the tarmac
not immediately
or as most people do not
see pass the sky with its proprietary
bundles of clouds and elements
the trees stand in apostolic succession
across the stripped lawn where the acer
is mouldering into purple so that conceptions
may hold on to that most delicate of foliages
endlessly depicted as accommodating
to a brush night-thick with ink
but also to its tip delicate
and responsive to each passing breath.

2. Continue the process, setting out a tree image in HTML:

 

and and and and and and and and an and
and and and and and and and and  there are
there are there are there are    lanes you go down
lanes lanes lanes lanes     fragmentary with other matters
with other matters      graying over and not noticing the broken
not noticing not    paling the roadsign missing the ache like old leather
like old   in the tarmac or not seeing as most people do not see pass the sky
do nor see do      with its proprietary bundles of clouds and elements
proprietary bundles   or trees standing in apostolic succession
apostolic apostolic          across the stripped lawn where
across the across      the acer is mouldering into purple so
into purple      that conceptions may hold on to that most fragile
hold on    of foliages endlessly accommodating to a brush night-thick
accommodating    with ink but also delicate and responsive to
delicate and responsive to      each passing breath

3. Ditto but repeating words:

and and and and and and and and      and    and and and and and and and and
there are and there are and and   there are    and there are and there are and
there are lanes you go        lanes you go down       there are lanes you go and
lanes lanes lanes lanes     fragmentary with other matters    fragmentary lanes
with other matters      graying over and not noticing the broken    graying over
not noticing not    paling the roadsign missing the ache like old leather        like
old    in the tarmac or not seeing as most people do not see pass the sky    old 
most people      with its proprietary bundles of clouds and elements        do not
in trees standing    or trees standing in apostolic succession           of clouds or
apostolic across across    across the stripped lawn where            the lawn lawn
is mouldering into      the acer is mouldering into purple so               purple into
conceptions so      that conceptions may hold on to that most fragile        most
endlessly     of foliages endlessly accommodating to a brush night-thick     night
accommodating  with ink but also delicate and responsive to       and responsive
each passing each passing     each passing breath           breath            breath

 

4. Use a graphics program to pick out key words:

 

 

None of them very adventurous, but perhaps an indication of what's possible with the simplest of resources.

 

Material can be freely used for non-commercial purposes if cited in the usual way.