Week of first drafts - Friday - verbing weirds language

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Week of first drafts - Friday - verbing weirds language

Post by Ros » Thu Jan 14, 2010 9:55 pm

Stolen, today, from Wild poetry forum:

“A NOUN’S A THING; A VERB’S THE THING IT DOES

“Verbs are the catalyst in a poem. In fact, verbs are probably the most important part of speech in poetry. A non-poet might think adjectives would be of primary importance because they are descriptive. And, while a prudent use of adjectives can be helpful, adjectives can also slow things down. They’re often static. On the other hand, you can use verbs to catalyze internal or exterior events, to add vital energy to the language. The strong visual verb compels the poem forward. That’s why it’s best to avoid verbs such as move when hustle or shoot or limp work better. These words add imagistic zing to the poem, while verbs such as move or exist offer very little sensory vigor.

Yusef Komunyakaa is famous for his frank poems about war veterans. Here he employs strong visual verbs to render the interior life:


To Have Danced with Death
by Yusef Komunyakka

The black sergeant first class
who stalled us on the ramp
didn’t kiss the ground either.

When two hearses sheened up to the plane
& government silver-gray coffins
rolled out on silent chrome coasters,

did he feel better? The empty left leg
of his trousers shivered as another hearse
with shiny hubcaps inched from behind a building . . .

his three rows of ribbons rainbowed
over the forest of faces through
plate glass. Afternoon sunlight

made surgical knives out of chrome
& brass. He half smiled when
the double doors opened for him

like a wordless mouth taking back promises.
The room of blue eyes averted his.
He stood there, searching

his pockets for something:
maybe a woman’s name & number
worn thin as a Chinese fortune.

I wanted him to walk ahead,
to disappear through glass,
to be consumed by music

that might move him like Sandman Sims,
but he merely rocked on his good leg
like a bleak & soundless bell.


Consider some of the verbs in the poem: stalled, sheened, shivered, rainbowed, half smiled, consumed, and rocked. All of these invest the poem with a kind of traumatic psychological energy that renders the narrator and the wounded sergeant’s ambivalence about the military rituals they were afforded upon returning from the Vietnam War. The primary action of Komunyakaa’s poem is psychological, and these verbs demonstrate how dynamic the inner realm really is. They contribute directly to the visceral reaction we have when reading the poem. If stalled were “stopped,” if sheened were “drove,” and if rainbowed were “waved,” the poem wouldn’t induce such a strong gut-level reaction.

To make this exercise just a bit more challenging, write a free verse poem in which the following four words, normally thought of as nouns, are used somewhere in the piece as verbs:

thundercloud
letter
hawk
bookcase

Remember, you must use the words as verbs. It is not enough to have them simply appear in the poem. For instance, using “afternoon” as an example:

“She lazed by the pool all afternoon.” (incorrect)
“She afternooned by the pool; morning regrets from another lifetime.” (correct)

Pay attention to the other verbs you use in the poem as well. Select them carefully to underscore your subject and theme, and try to ensure they add imagistic zest to your poem, though you needn’t go overboard. The subject of the poem may be anything you wish. .

“~ Text and exercise from “The Mind’s Eye: A Guide to Writing Poetry” by Kevin Clark
Rosencrantz: What are you playing at? Guildenstern: Words. Words. They're all we have to go on.
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Re: Week of first drafts - Friday - verbing weirds language

Post by brianedwards » Fri Jan 15, 2010 12:55 am

Good one Ros. This appeals to the butcher in my blood.

B.

~

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Re: Week of first drafts - Friday - verbing weirds language

Post by bodkin » Fri Jan 15, 2010 11:03 am

I didn't get around to one using your words, but I've just knocked up this one using the same idea for other words...

I have Danced with Teeth

Prodigiously fooding and lived so long
as she wipes flour from hands to apron --
strong flour for heroic rolls --
and she breads us with richly potato leeking soup,
evening our meal.
http://www.ianbadcoe.uk/

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Re: Week of first drafts - Friday - verbing weirds language

Post by David » Fri Jan 15, 2010 11:06 am

Ahem. Is it a bit naughty of us to be nicking things from Wild?

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Re: Week of first drafts - Friday - verbing weirds language

Post by bodkin » Fri Jan 15, 2010 11:21 am

Dunno, but the footnote says they nicked it from a book...
http://www.ianbadcoe.uk/

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Re: Week of first drafts - Friday - verbing weirds language

Post by David » Fri Jan 15, 2010 12:16 pm

bodkin wrote:Dunno, but the footnote says they nicked it from a book...
True, but at least they opened the book.

Not overly fussed about this, at all. Just wondering.

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Re: Week of first drafts - Friday - verbing weirds language

Post by bodkin » Fri Jan 15, 2010 12:36 pm

Well I would have rewritten it, but then I am overly sensitive to these things...
http://www.ianbadcoe.uk/

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Re: Week of first drafts - Friday - verbing weirds language

Post by brianedwards » Fri Jan 15, 2010 2:19 pm

OMFGOD

Pick 'n' choose is a modern right and privelege
so I've streamlined my own God.

All you holy men and clergymen --
I hawked your scriptures and scrolls
and bookcased all the bits not a fit
for what I wanna preach.

I downsized your gospels,
lopped off all false prophecies
and shouldered out all surplus saints.

My God is a 21st century God,
hand-held and key-ringed,
firewalled against the non-believing
demographic hankering to hack His parables
and mint-dip His flock.

My God has the classic qualities of historic deities
in downloadable sizes to suit my lifestyle needs.
His presence balances: He thunderclouds my Samaritan tendencies
and sunnies up my greyest prayers.

Wise God, he prophesied discontent
and market turbulence,
lettered your complaints A-Z
and mailed them to your newly dead.

Compacted, compressed and sleekly packaged,
vibrate loudly, my Lord, lest I forget
you're omni-presenting in my back pocket.





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Re: Week of first drafts - Friday - verbing weirds language

Post by Ros » Fri Jan 15, 2010 2:54 pm

I did ask M a while back, when we first decided to do exercises, and she said nick away. 'Tis twice nicked.
Rosencrantz: What are you playing at? Guildenstern: Words. Words. They're all we have to go on.
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Re: Week of first drafts - Friday - verbing weirds language

Post by Ros » Fri Jan 15, 2010 4:19 pm

Good one, Brian. So what's the purpose of your God? Or does he just look good?

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Re: Week of first drafts - Friday - verbing weirds language

Post by David » Fri Jan 15, 2010 5:54 pm

Ros wrote:I did ask M a while back, when we first decided to do exercises, and she said nick away. 'Tis twice nicked.
You've set my little mind at rest.

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Re: Week of first drafts - Friday - verbing weirds language

Post by Pauline » Fri Jan 15, 2010 9:25 pm

Finally

The long awaited letter barely had
chance to land on the doormat.
I swooped down the stairs like a hawk
and scooped it up eagerly.
I had been waiting for weeks for it to come,
and now it was here I hardly dare open it.
My heart was pounding.
Thundercloud energy surged through my body
leaving me all sticky and hot.
The excitement left me breathless, shaky,
I had to sit down.
Stumbling to the kitchen like a buckled wheel,
I threw myself onto a chair.
I stared at my treasured delivery.
I smelt it, stroked it, kissed it.
Finally, I gingerly started to peel it open.
Ooh my goodness, I was giddy.
Eyes like a pan of winkles,
I scanned every inch of my precious post.
Punching the air, I couldn’t smile wide enough.
I floated over to the bookcase,
and in centre position,
I placed my Barry Manilow concert tickets.

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Re: Week of first drafts - Friday - verbing weirds language

Post by Pauline » Fri Jan 15, 2010 9:26 pm

I know it's not a poem, but i enjoyed doing it, so I wanted to share lol

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Re: Week of first drafts - Friday - verbing weirds language

Post by Raine » Fri Jan 15, 2010 9:59 pm

.

Lady Killer

She came, clad in grey;
Thunderclouded her way through
row upon row of bookcased onlookers
then hovered ...

Witnesses lettered the evidence
As she spotted her quarry
And hawked.



.
All aspects of language are tools of the poet; line-broken narrative serves an intent.
Take cliché, miss pelling and hyphen'd syllabics. Mould them with form and artistic intent. :-)

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Re: Week of first drafts - Friday - verbing weirds language

Post by Raine » Fri Jan 15, 2010 10:02 pm

.
Brian, really enjoyed your piece, particularly this:
My God is a 21st century God,
hand-held and key-ringed,
firewalled against the non-believing
demographic hankering to hack His parables
and mint-dip His flock.

.
All aspects of language are tools of the poet; line-broken narrative serves an intent.
Take cliché, miss pelling and hyphen'd syllabics. Mould them with form and artistic intent. :-)

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Re: Week of first drafts - Friday - verbing weirds language

Post by Raine » Fri Jan 15, 2010 10:05 pm

Hi Pauline, I enjoyed the read but I think you may have misinterpreted the question which makes a refreshing change because it's usually me. :wink:
All aspects of language are tools of the poet; line-broken narrative serves an intent.
Take cliché, miss pelling and hyphen'd syllabics. Mould them with form and artistic intent. :-)

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Re: Week of first drafts - Friday - verbing weirds language

Post by Pauline » Fri Jan 15, 2010 10:34 pm

Lol, Thanks Raine. It's the rebel in me.

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Re: Week of first drafts - Friday - verbing weirds language

Post by bodkin » Fri Jan 15, 2010 11:30 pm

Fourth Estate Agents

Thunderclouding brows browse the news
searching for umbrage to take,
but editors letter most carefully
from their eerie-tower-nest-desks
where with eyes hawking down
on proles and plebs
they smirk
having neatly
ducked offencing
once again.

Only bookcased proprietors
of the cringing bookended shops
footing the tower's
understand
the stakes
and plays.
http://www.ianbadcoe.uk/

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