Personal Mythology of Organic Poetry Workshop
Tuesday, June 11, 2013 #1 (sight)
- read As for Poets (Gary Snyder)
- Outline, expectations, definition, needs. (Ask class.)
In 1912, in the introduction to the 4th edition of his book Symbols of Transformation, Carl Jung asked: What is the myth you are living? Personal Mythology is the name of that myth and you have one, whether you are conscious of it, or not. I can’t tell you what it is, but you can discover your own and, if you don’t like it, you can change it. What is the theme of your life? What patterns inform your activities? This course will help you discover a process of getting deeper into your own consciousness, perhaps to the level of personal myth. (In my essay What is Consciousness, you can see where I put this in a model of how consciousness manifests. OrganicPoetry.org) Questions to ponder, What writing project do people associate with you? Is there a subject on which you’d seek to do a saturation job? Do you carry a small notebook in which you can jot down short poems or notes for poems?
- Brief explanation of Organic Poetry: A poem that writes itself, but is the product of balance.
- Balance comes from joining practicality with vision, or we could say, joining skill with spontaneity. (Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche).
- A use of speech at its least careless and least logical (Charles Olson.) If you have not read Projective Verse, that’s your first assignment before next week and I can give you a copy, or send you a link to the text.
- AG on 1st Thought/Best Thought
- License Plate Exercise: Go outside for 7 minutes, work alone, in silence, look at three parked cars and make short descriptions of what the three letters stand for. Ignore the numbers. For example, a car with license plates YHM might stand for: Yuma Hates Moccasins, Your Hideous Mustache or Yellow Horse Meat. Start now. (Upon return: Is your work visual? What is the sound component? Is your syntax regular? Prose chopped into lines? Any smells in the poem? Tastes?)
- Exquisite Corpse exercise using license plate material if stuck.
- Cover poem of Ed Dorn Tribe. 7 minutes.
- Mind Writing Slogans (I) (Have group read these, two or three each.)
- Ed Sanders – Planning & Mapping (from Creativity & the Fully Developed Bard.)
- Play Duncan – Often I am Permitted to Return to a Meadow
- Write 16 words that correspond to your notion of sight. Things you like to look at, or that represent your past, present and future; your good side as well as your shadow side. These are concrete words that you think sound good. You like saying these words.
- Reaparicion Exercise: Take 10 minutes to write a poem of four stanzas, four to six lines each, either writing based on going to a place you have note been for a long time, or imagining that return as if it happened. Perhaps a war experience, a relationship, an old city you once lived in. Be concrete like in the example of the Kozer poem:
Assignment: Flesh out one of Snyder’s poet categories, or add at least three more in a poem using his as a guide (linebreaks, syntax, language, tone, etc.) Come with questions on the Projective Verse essay.
Tuesday, June 11, 2013 #2 (Sound)
- Read Nate Mackey – Song of the Andoumbolou: 11
- Discussion of previous week. Personal Myth grid pointers. Any questions? Questions on Projective Verse?
- Play Eileen Myles cuts: 1. Untitled (Matthew Shepard), 2. On Proprioception, 3. On Working Class Speech, 4. Milk, 5. On Milk
- Hand out Questionnaire
- Wanda Coleman:
Read American Sonnets, play her reading #12. Emphasize the notion of a PROJECT. Do American Sonnets exercise, with handout, using a line or image from the end of the Duo Corpse poem as a starting point. Try to get something quintessentially U.S. American in it.
- George Bowering:
I do not compose poetry to show you what I have seen, but rather because I have seen…this poet’s job is not to tell you what it is like, but to make a poem…Not trying to use your poems to prove a point, or address an argument. Not to try to control what they’re (the poems) are doing…but rather to be a kind of audience listening to where the poem is going to go…the practice of outside…Try to forget your own voice…and listen hard for what the language is saying… you yourself are the audience, hearing a voice you’ve trained your ear to receive (emphasis added)… (Bowering 6)
- Play McClure – Ghost Tantras, have class read some tantras.
- Write 16 words that correspond to your notion of sound. Things you like to hear, or that represent your past, present and future; your good side as well as your shadow side. These are concrete words that you think sound good. You like saying and hearing these words.
- Another American Sonnet: Pick up from the last image or line from your American Sonnet and write a poem of 14-16 more lines.
Assignment: Complete questionnaire; write two additional American Sonnets and have them printed out for next week. Finish SOUND words if not done already and come next week with questions/comments on Eileen Myles’ The End of New England essay.
Tuesday, June 11, 2013 #3 (Touch)
- Amalio Madueño – Lost in the Chamiso
- Discussion of previous week. Personal Myth grid pointers. Any questions? Questions on questionnaire? Short body-part poems? American Sonnets? Questions on End of New England essay?
- Read Allen Ginsberg – Sphincter. Play his reading of Autumn Leaves.
- Ritual poem exercise.
- Ted Berrigan Sonnets. Read some, play some.
- Berrigan Sonnet Exercise. (Handout.)
- Jack Spicer poetics. (Handout.)
…Prose invents – poetry discloses… A poet is a time mechanic not an embalmer…
…Muses do exist, but now I know that they are not afraid to dirty their hands with explication – that they are patient with truth and commentary as long as it doesn’t get into the poem…
…The trick naturally is what Duncan learned years ago and tried to teach us – not to search for the perfect poem but to let your way of writing of the moment go along its own paths, explore and retreat but never be fully realized (confined) within the boundaries of one poem. This is where we were wrong and he was right, but he complicated things for us by saying that there is no such thing as good or bad poetry. There is – but not in relation to the single poem. There is really no single poem…
…Poems should echo and reecho against each other. They should create resonances. They cannot live alone any more than we can…
- Write 16 words that correspond to your notion of touch. Things you like to touch, or that represent your past, present and future; your good side as well as your shadow side. These are concrete words that you think feel good on your skin, or fur. You like saying and hearing these words.
- Read Michael S. Harper – Grandfather
- Play Video of Allen Ginsberg – Father Death Blues.
- Exercise: Father Poem. (Read Nine Sonnets for Pop.)
Assignment: 1. Complete additional American Sonnets to have at least nine total. 2. Finish TOUCH words if not done already. 3. Conduct a ritual for something in your life you need by a body of water (I think rivers are best) and then write a poem about what you did, remembering you do not have to share it if you don’t want to and come next week with questions/comments on Denise Levertov’s 4. Some Notes on Organic Form essay. Ideas for long-term projects, ie: Kyger’s Blavatsky poem, George Stanley’s Vancouver: A Poem, McClure’s Touching The Edge.
Tuesday, June 11, 2013 #4 (Smell)
- Robin Blaser – (from the introduction to The Holy Forest, pg xx, on Open Form,) Quitting a Job (pg 26,) Golden Poem (108,) The Truth is Laughter I, II & 6 (204, 205, 209.) The Truth is Laughter 15 and Occasional Thought (224.)
- Discussion of previous week. How’re the sonnets coming? Anyone want to read one or two? Questions on Personal Myth grid? Didja get a Father Poem? Was that too hard? Who did a ritual? Any questions? Questions on Levertov Some Notes on Organic Form essay?
- Postcard poem exercise. Write to Pop, Mom, Sis, Bro, an old friend, or someone else you know well. You don’t have to mail it. You can fill out the address later. (Handout).
- Cinquains (from postcard, or extended from that, or from your Tribe poem.) Father an enigma that may take us decades to begin to understand well. He waits.
- Blaser poems: One Word of Wisdom (pg 410,) poems from 480, 481, 492, his father poem Tumble Weed pg 200 and finally 503. Then play sound of What Would You Do?
- Interview poem Exercise. (Handout.)
- Write 16 words that correspond to your notion of smell. Things you like to smell, or that represent your past, present and future; your good side as well as your shadow side. These are concrete words that you think smell good and it might be weird. Dryer sheets. Compost. Dairy Farm. The sound of this word, and especially the smell of it, brings up a memory, good or bad.
- Exercise: Mother Poem. (Read Homero Aridjis The Amazement of Time.) A short poem, a cinquain or other small poem as an outline for a longer piece, or just go for it, writing part one of the poem that could be continued after class.
Assignment: 1. Come back with finished Mother poem. 2. Finish SMELL words if not done already. 3. Browse https://www.earthvision.info/archetypes COME BACK WITH THE MATERIAL ON THREE TO FIVE ARCHETYPES THAT RESONATE WITH YOUR NOTION OF YOUR SELF. 4. Rothenberg essays, Revolutionary Propositions and Offering Flowers. Ideas for long-term projects, ie: Bowering’s a chapbook a month, Three Guys from Albany (have toured the United States since 1993 and so far they have read in 11 of the 18 Albanys in the USA.) Bowering’s chapbook based on Lorine N’s work and life, Postcard Project.
Personal Mythology of Organic Poetry Workshop
Tuesday, June 11, 2013 #5 (Taste)
- Charles Olson – As The Dead Prey Upon Us (audio, handout.)
- Discussion of previous week. How’re the poems coming? Anyone want to read one or two? Didja get a Mother Poem? Questions on Rothenberg essay? Can you read your interview poem? Do you have info archetypes from last week? https://www.earthvision.info/archetypes
- American Sentences. (Audio – of A. Waldman & A. Schelling, Handout)
- Charles Olson poems: Letter 2 (pg 9,) Maximus to Gloucester, Letter 27 [withheld] (pg 184) or 3:48 on Polis, A Later Note on Letter #15 (pg 249,) Sun (pg 577,) father poem on Pg 497.
- Phrase Acrostic. (Handout.)
- Write 16 words that correspond to your notion of taste. Things you like to taste, or that represent your past, present and future; your good side as well as your shadow side. These are concrete words that you think taste good and it might be weird. Paste. Cuticles. Grappa. Day old raisin bread. The sound of this word, and especially the taste of it, brings up a memory, good or bad.
- Video of Charles Olson Song Three (at 29:00 on Polis disc.)
- Exercise: Get a COOL poem title. (You can steal one, take a phrase from someone’s poem or one of YOURS and write it down.) John Ashberry exercise, now go outside and get it. We’ll meet on the front porch in 20 minutes.
Assignment: 1. Do research on your own name, first, middle, last, maiden, nickname, etc. 2. Finish ALL words if not done already. 3. Browse https://www.earthvision.info/archetypes COME BACK WITH THE MATERIAL ON THREE TO FIVE ARCHETYPES THAT RESONATE WITH YOUR NOTION OF YOUR SELF. 4. Bring 50 index cards.
The boy’s name Paul \paul\ is pronounced pahl. It is of Latin origin, and its meaning is “small“. Popular Roman and medieval name used commonly since the 18th century. Biblical: the apostle evangelist. Paul’s letters to early Christians form the majority of the books of the New Testament. Pablo is a Spanish form; Paolo is Italian; Paulino, Paulo are Portuguese; Pal, Poul are Scandinavian; Pauel is Dutch; Paulus is Latin; Pavel is Slavic; Pavlik, Pavlo are Russian; Paulson is English; Paulsen is Dutch, Scandinavian.
EVERETT (from EVERARD) Gender: Masculine Usage: English (Rare) Means “brave boar”, derived from the Germanic elements eber “wild boar” and hard “brave, hardy”. The Normans introduced it to England, where it joined the Old English cognate Eoforheard. It has only been rarely used since the Middle Ages. Modern use of the name may be inspired by the surname Everard, itself derived from the medieval name.
Tuesday, June 11, 2013 #6 (Summary/Integration)
- Discussion of previous week. How’re the poems coming? Anyone want to read one or two? Do you have info archetypes from last week? https://www.earthvision.info/archetypes Index Cards?
- Each week we’ve looked at different senses, different ways of composing the organic poem, different aspects of our own personalities. Hopefully by now you’ve had the opportunity to experience the poem as a flow, a natural yet vigorous experience. Maybe you’ve had things happen to you, or some intense dreams. Certainly the content of your work has shifted by taking this workshop. The stuff stir’d up by this activity can be quite primal, but I hope you’ve found the process at least interesting and hopefully, invigorating. When one begins to see one’s life through a mythic perspective it does not necessarily get easier, but it is more rewarding and only numbing and denial can stop the process.
I have an email list, the E-Fishwrapper, which goes out when events compel and time permits me to send one out. If you’re interested in this work and work in this vein, please email me and I’ll put you on the list.
- McClure on Projective Verse: (text, sound.)
- McClure reading Dolphin Skull. (Me & class continuing.)
- Adding to your sense words, write 10 words that correspond to movement. Also, ten words that reflect heroes, SHE-roes, power animals, Gods, archetypes, etc. Things that represent your past, present and future; your good side as well as your shadow side. These are concrete words that you think taste good and it might be weird. Also choose one abstract word to finish the deal. Write the words on the cards. You can make them more fancy later by adding some art to them.
- Exercise: Write. You can continue the sonnet series, write the Father or Mother poem, use any of the exercises we covered in class, or begin a serial poem about your mythic self, perhaps using Dolphin Skull as a model. Perhaps taking off from the last image in your Mom or Dad poem. Or, start with a salient image from your own name, or from an archetype. When you get stuck you can use one of several prompting devices that we covered. To review:
- Alluvials. Read a previous stanza, or two or three above where you are in the poem, or go all the way back to the beginning until you get a hit.
- Quotes from other poets. You can scan through the books up here, through your notes, or old poems. This was one of Robin Blaser’s techniques.
- Add some sensory input from the world around you. Nothing happens by accident. Remember the cops were arresting someone when we went outside to write that one week? In the moment you’ll know whether it fits in the poem or not.
- Get an image from an archetype, or
- Go to your cards! Here’s where the cards can be used as a sort of poetry divination. Remember McClure’s repetition of Owls, Turquoise, Deer, Musk, Linen. Not just the word, but the association it brings up. The feel of turquoise when the old Indian woman in Santa Fe put it in your hand at the powwow. The smell of fresh basil at the Vietnamese Restaurant the last time you saw that friend before they died. Don’t be afraid of the Duende. Try word combinations. (This can also be created through wordle.net by inserting a bunch of text and creating a word cloud. We’ll take a certain amount of time to address this and leave some time at the end for discussions and some paperwork.)
- Reminders: Write daily; Find a multi-decade project that will define you as a writer; look for the mythic dimensions of intense events in your life; don’t settle for being a positioner, be a real artist.
Participant Comments on Personal Mythology of Organic Poetry
Thank you again for class- I got A LOT out of it – so much food for thought and tools to use in the future. Really it was fantastic. I really enjoyed hearing your work too and witnessing your passion for poetry – very inspiring…
Thanks so much and again thanks for the wonderful class.
this class was amazing for me. eye-opening. jaw-dropping. makes me think about my life
and how i want to allocate my days. thanks for your passion to teach us, especially us folk
who weren’t exactly “poets” – yet. 🙂
Hopefully i’ll get to take another class of yours down the road.
——————————————————————————-Fighting my impulse “if only I could find time to focus and write,” I signed up for Paul Nelson’s class, “The Personal Mythology of Organic Poetry.” Through his insightful point of view on organic poetry, his personal interviews and knowledge of Ginsberg, Myles, McClure and others, Paul inspired me to rethink poetry and experience. I appreciated his sense of humor and his commitment and preparation for every class. Through our discussions, readings and conversations about the craft of writing, I see possibilities for extending and deepening my work. Like life, organic poetry can be messy, incomplete, imperfect, surprising, awesome. I feel much freer to accept and approach that my poetry, like my life, is unfolding. I am grateful for the thoughts Paul has inspired and his reminder to “just do the work.”