Saturday, February 12, 2011

Monty Python On Words

On Becoming a Poet

On Metaphors


Bird of Paradise

Free Diving and Love

Here's an abstract for a New Yorker Article on the sport of Free Diving. Do some research and write a love poem.

Why and What

Slow Down


Addonizio says we should think about:

Sufficient Thought
The Parts Contribute to the Whole

The Plan

Allied Arts Poetry Workshop: February 12th, 2011

Forms of Love

I love you but I'm married.
I love you but I wish you had more hair.
I love you more.
I love you more like a friend.
I love your friends more than you.
I love how when we go into a mall and classical muzak is playing,
you can always name the composer.
I love you, but one or both of us is/are fictional.
I love you but "I" am an unstable signifier.
I love you saying, "I understand the semiotics of that" when I said, "I
had a little personal business to take care of."
I love you as long as you love me back.
I love you in spite of the restraining order.
I love you from the coma you put me in.
I love you more than I've ever loved anyone, except for this one guy.
I love you when you're not getting drunk and stupid.
I love how you get me.
I love your pain, it's so competitive.
I love how emotionally unavailable you are.
I love you like I'm a strange backyard and you're running from the
cops, looking for a place to stash your gun.
I love your hair.
I love you but I'm just not that into you.
I love you secretly.
I love how you make me feel like I'm a monastery in the desert.
I love how you defined grace as the little turn the blood in the
syringe takes when you're shooting heroin, after you pull back
the plunger slightly to make sure you hit the vein.
I love your mother, she's the opposite of mine.
I love you and feel a powerful spiritual connection to you, even
though we've never met.
I love your tacos! I love your stick deodorant!
I love it when you tie me up with ropes using the knots you
learned in Boy Scouts, and when you do the stoned Dennis
Hopper rap from Apocalypse Now!
I love your extravagant double takes!
I love your mother, even though I'm nearly her age!
I love everything about you except your hair.
If it weren't for that I know I could really, really love you.

by Kim Addonizio, from Lucifer at the Starlite.

Let’s start by expanding the word:

The bishop tells me every breath

comes from God. I couldn’t see it,

until I broke the back

of my own betrayal of me. Evil

is an impulse of love breathed wrong.

The flip side of all we are is good.

Every act is an act of love.

From “To My Children: A War Story” by Jim Bodeen (Impulse to Love)

Here’s how PBS breaks it down in “The Mystery of Love”

Friendship, Community, Romance, Divine, Family

Let’s start there with some lists.

Now, let’s add:

Landscapes, activities, animals, times of day

Now let’s add:

Secret places only you know about, months, seasons, years of your life,


Food/meals, tastes, scents, sounds


Writers, books, words

Come back to these lists for inspiration during the workshop and later.

· Introduce yourself and three things from different parts of your list.

· How I got here.

· Blog with links and more to look at.

· Love poems, but lots of ways to see love and even some non love poems.

The poet Marvin Bell says, Learning to write is a simple process: read something, then write something; read something else and write something else. And show in your writing what you have read.

He also says, You do not learn from work like yours as much as you learn from work unlike yours.

The schedule: Something Like This:

10-11: Two sets of prompts (six-eight prompts total?)

Explain prompts, writing time, sharing time x2.

11-12: Two sets of prompts.

12-1: Lunch

1-2: Two sets of prompts.

2-230: Revision tips, polish a piece

230-330: Final two sets of prompts.

330-4: Getting the words into the world.

So, Love Poems. Romantic love. High School. Amy. Now.

It makes me uncomfortable to talk about any other romantic love, but I’m going to try to take some risks and give myself the freedom as a writer to do it.

As a group, we have to pretend we’ve just flown in from hiking the Appalachian Trail.

Good, conflicting advice from Rilke:

Don’t write love poems; avoid those forms that are too facile and ordinary: they are the hardest to work with, and it takes great, fully ripened power to create something individual where good, even glorious, traditions exist in abundance. So rescue yourself from these general themes and write about what your everyday life offers you; describe your sorrows and desires, the thoughts that pass through your mind and your belief in some kind of beauty – describe all these with heartfelt, silent, humble sincerity and, when you express yourself, use the Things around you, the images from your dreams, and the objects that you remember.

But, Rilke, too:

For one human being to love another human being: that is perhaps the most difficult task that has been given to us, the ultimate, the final problem and proof, the work for which all other work is merely preparation.

We need, in love, to practice only this: letting each other go. For holding on comes easily; we do not need to learn it.

Therefore, dear Sir, ….believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it.
(Letters to a Young Poet)

Nikki Giovanni reflects on what it takes to write a love poem:

“5-If I could give just one piece of advice about writing a love poem I would remind the writer that love is about the lover not the beloved. It’s about how you feel not how he responds. That should free you to set your heart on your sleeve; no one is going to knock it off.

“4-Everything about love and life is the simplicity of it. The most important thing to keep in mind is to be clear. The Dells sang Love Is So Simple and I think they are right. Nat ‘King’ Cole sang I Love You (for Sentimental Reasons); clear as a bell. Cole Porter wrote You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To. Classic. All of them. Clear. You can feel the longing.

“3-The most common writing mistake, period, is complication. The reader does not want to figure out what you mean. Neither does your beloved. Prince says I Want To Be Your Lover. Boom. You know where you stand.

“2-There must be an internal rhythm to a love poem; the desire must come out. The mistake a lot of people make is to over-think the poem. To reach out for images when just letting the longing of the heart come through would be sufficient.

“1-If someone writes you a love poem you’d have to be an idiot to say it was not a good poem. That’s like someone saying ‘I love that dress on you’ and you saying ‘What? This ole thing?’ The proper answer is a sweet smile and a thank you. If you have feelings for that person you can always blush.”

Giovanni concludes, “Writing a good love poem is like being a good lover. You have to touch, taste, take your time to tell that this is real. The Supremes say You Can’t Hurry Love and you can’t fake it, either.”


Let the beauty we love be what we do.

There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

by Jelaluddin Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks

Givens, Other

Burned out on love poems?

1. Start with a line from someone else and

a. Rewrite it in your own words, based on your experience.

b. or Change one word.

c. or Use the same first letter for each word, but change the words.

d. or Use the first line as your last line.

From Tom Aslin’s Moon Over Wings

When I walk from the house to the car

I lift the lid from a small, wood box

Over the phone my mother…

You never knew my friends and I would sneak away (letter to someone who’s dead. In it make a confession)

Just once, I want to face…

The fiercest window is the mirror.

I find my father in his recliner. He says…

The truth is I have a daughter…

From Ray Carver’s Ultramarine

By the time I came around to feeling pain and woke up

There isn’t enough of anything as long as we live. But at intervals a sweetness appears and, given a chance, prevails. It’s true, I’m happy now.

Awakened this morning by a voice from my childhood that says, Time to get up, I get up.

He was never the same, they said, after that. And they were right.

The four of us sitting around that afternoon.

From Sherman Alexie’s Face

The doctor tells me my father’s story

Let us remember the wasps

From Ted Kooser’s Delights and Shadows

Today you would be ______years old

Just now

2. Start with a title

a. Write a long title with lots of specific information

b. or Write a poem for the end of something with the word “Last “in the title.

c. or Name a specific time and/or place in your title.

d. or Title your poem, “On Turning________”

3. Start from memory:

a. Write about a first experience;

b. or write about where you were and what you were doing when a major new event happened;

c. or write about something you wish you could remember more clearly and try to imagine what you can’t recall.

4. Start from the next thing you see

5. Expanding the sentence

a. write an opening sentence.

b. Now, delete the period, add a comma

c. and then add one of the following words or phrases to your sentence: but, or, and, like, as if, as though, although, because, when, in spite of

6. Write about a place that used to be yours—write about the senses, then write about the emotions.

7. List your various selves, including their hopes and fears. Make three lists: Past, Present, Future (hopes), Future (fears)

Givens, Love Poems


Set One:

1. Shards of Memory (From Kowit)

a. Around 1981, 1953, 1978, 1979, 1972, 1962, 1969, 1963 etc

b. Do this with people you have kissed.

c. Sharpen

2. You are…

a. Write a detailed description of an object: a boat, a tree, a bottle, a shoe etc. Make it vivid for the reader.

b. Begin the poem with “You are…” and imagine a loved one as that object.

3. Common Objects: List several objects around you. Next, choose two of those objects. The first object is in love with the second object. What are the object’s inner lives like?

4. Mom Told Me Every Story But This One

a. I married him that day in class/And never said a word

Set Two:

1. To My Fourth-Grade Love (Margaret Chilton)

a. For me, it’d be 3rd Grade, Sunny Senters

2. You, part two

a. Instead of an extended metaphor, try a list of them

i. You were….You were….You were….

Read “Homage to my hips” by Lucille Clifton. And then write a sexy homage to a body part.

If only we could like each other raw.

If only we could love ourselves

like healthy babies burbling in our arms.

If only we were not programmed and reprogrammed

to need what is sold us.

Marge Piercy

4. Riffs for My Father (What I Won’t Forget)

Set Three:

1. You’re Beautiful Because…I’m ugly because….(with Audio)

a. The poem does not have to go back and forth exactly

b. Try sestets

2. Neruda wants to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees.

a. I want to do with you what _________ does to _____________

b. I want to do to you what a _____________ does to a ____________

3. Brainstorm a list of mundane actitivites not usually thought of erotic—washing the dishes or the car, mowing the lawn, going to the dentist. Now, make a list of nouns associated with that activity. Then make a list of verbs and adjectives that you associate with sex. Stir everything together, and make the mundane activity sound positively orgasmic.

4. Strawberries: There was nothing better/than watching my father/slice strawberries into a soup bowl/

Set Four:

1. The Changed Man (Woman): If you were to hear me…If you were to see me…Because of you I….Because of you I’m...I’ve become a changed man.

a. Try tercets

2. My Heart

a. That Mississippi Chicken Shack

b. Load it up with sharp/quick metaphor

Quick Muse “The Act”

4. Do the above exercise but this time eroticize a landscape, like Hillman. A field or rocky bluff will do, but also try something nontraditional—a scrapyard, an empty parking lot. Again draw your nouns from the landscape, your verbs and adjectives from sexual words.

Set Five:

1. Ex-Boyfriends (or Girlfriends)

a. Try it in tercets

2. He Attempts to Love His Neighbors

a. Permeable

3. Magellan Street 1974

a. This is the year you….Two stanzas looking back. Last, short stanza, in present day?

4. The Problem Was

Set Six:

1. Love Stinks: What does love look like. Sour milk, a dead or dying animal, rotting plums, a casino under the wrecking ball? Write about a relationship that didn’t work out, developing one or several images. Try “Love is” as a way to begin. (Bukowski says, Love is a dog from hell).

2. Highway Five Love Poem

3. Another Kind of Desire: Now write a poem about a lust that is not erotic. Is there a food that you find sinfully delicious, a certain fresh spring smell or sight or piece of music that moves you rapturously every time you hear it? Perhaps it is a lust to lie quietly in a hammock in the courtyard of a house you haven’t seen for years, or for a cold glass of fresh water late at night, or a lust to hear the voice of your aging mother over the phone.

a. Begin this poem with the phrase “stolen” from another poem in this chapter. For example, you might select, “All they had said…” or “Somewhere in a field…” or “When my body finally gives in to…” Use that as a jumping-off point. Do not preconceive this poem, but let it find it’s own direction as the writing proceeds.

b. Book lust, Real Estate Lust, Red Wine Lust, Mercedes Lust, Rib Eye Lust…

Ekphrasis—Barnard’s Nudes and Cezanne and the Love of Color.

Set Seven:

1. Daily I Fall In Love With Waitresses/Mechanics.

a. Who do you fall in love with “daily”?

b. Barista? UPS Guy? The child walking home from school. The house on the corner. The wind in the birch next door.

I love you—not

a. Write an ironic “I love you” poem: I love the way you never return my phone calls, I love you when you invite me to a party and then ignore me all evening.

3. What Do Women Want? (try Men, try crossing genders?)

4. For the Life of Him and Her

a. Try it in long line quatrains

b. Try it with repeating words at line ends (party, wear, party, wear etc)

Set Eight:

Go back and find one from the list

Love Poem Workshop Links

Kim Addonizio:

What Do Women Want?


My Heart

Forms of Love

Writer’s Almanac Love Poems:

To My Fourth Grade Love (Margaret Chilton)

Cezanne and the Love of Color (Stephen Dobyns)

Daily I Fall in Love with Waitresses (Eliot Fried)

"Daily I Fall in Love with Mechanics" by Susan Thurston.

He Attempts to Love His Neighbors (Alden Nowlan)

Highway Five Love Poem (Ruth Swartz)

Love Poem (Donald Hall)

Love Poem (Linda Pasten)

Married Poets Craft Love Poems by the Clock

Here’s their prompt from Quickmuse:


By William Carlos Williams

There were the roses, in the rain.
Don't cut them, I pleaded.
They won't last, she said.
But they're so beautiful
where they are.
Agh, we were all beautiful once, she said,
and cut them and gave them to me
in my hand.

Brad Leithauser’s poem

Mary Jo Salter’s poem on the same prompt

It might be better to call this, A Big Bag of Tools:

Moves in Contemporary Poetry[

From the Poetry Foundation:
How to Write Love Poems with Adrian Blevins, Rebecca Hoogs, Cyrus Cassells and Craig Arnold.

And Love Poems of all stripe.

Simon Armitage, “You’re Beautiful