Thursday, October 06, 2005

"care" (micro-sonnet)

The long day
    steals me away
        from what

        should never
            be missed
                this is the

sadness
    that
        teaches

        care
            & pity

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i) a longwinded autobio-note regarding this "form":

When I moved to Washington, DC near the start of 1991 (after having lived in New York City for a couple-few years), I'd been amid a phase of daily oilpainting (in my erstwhile apartment on MacDougal Street). In DC, for several years I was not in living quarters where oilpainting would be practicable. Instead, I turned attention to poetry-writing (an expressive medium that'd appeared & subsided since early youth periodically). As the habit of daily art was with me (from the painting phase), the pattern of daily expression persisted -- transplanting itself now to poetry. Or that's one way of explaining why (once I got into a groove) I entered a kind of "apprenticeship workshop of my own," writing poems within a certain form at least daily (typically several such poems per day). This went on for upwards of a year. The mass of those poems amounted to many hundreds. Eventually, I seemingly completed the "apprenticeship" and was able to leave that form, and try others, and also the impulse toward writing every day cooled down (though dailiness in poetry-writing continues to resurface in some periods).

A bit later, when I put together a couple MSS of my work [volumes that have yet to see publication; perchance I'll elaborate on that at some point], I selected just a handful from the vast morass of those poems, including them in two manuscripts. The first book I called Orison. The second, A Bowl of China.

Much of that mass of raw (or mottled & varied) material may've been perfectly disposable; but the practice of daily writing in a certain form seemingly served to teach me helpful things. It's something I feel I could perhaps encourage others to consider trying (as an experiment in learning, for those who find it suitable).

Anyway: I've not used the particular form of those days for at least a decade now. This new oddment of blogo-publishing (&/or some other range of factors) brought the old form back to mind this evening, with results above.

//////////

ii) a further techno-consideration of the "form":

Unlike these haiku-based experiments (where one counts syllables), and unlike conventional English/European metrical verse (where one counts beats or stressed syllables), this micro-sonnet form has no such regulating principle in that way. It has, instead, a kind of "visual" regulation (the specifics of which may vary from instance to instance). It thus hovers within reach of short-line "free verse"; but the existence of the specific number of lines -- and even the character of their organization on page (always as seen above) influenced/influences, for me, a sense of the flow of utterance.

(The specifics occasioning this new stray example of the form I'll leave in enigma; the generality of its ubiquity as thought & experience seems sufficient context.)

Gautami (commenting on one of the tri-ku) mentioned line-centered forms. Usually I've much favored left-justified writing; but this particular form, above, represents an exception in my work.

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iii) a (so-to-speak) publishing history

A number of those poems were published, in the early '90s, in Manhattan in a samizdat-style poets' xerox periodical called Tamarind. [I should here pause to recall with appreciation the late poet Lynne Beyer, who'd invited me into the Tamarind circle of anarchistic xerox-group-self-publishing. The deal was: we'd each show up with 100 copies of our one-page-of-work. It was a stapling party, resulting in 100 copies of the given issue of the periodical. Do I sound mildly nostalgic? Kiddies, these were our pre-internet (lo-tech) poetry blogs.]

A single one of these "visual sonnets" of mine did find more conventional publication: it showed up in the festschrift Remembering Ray (1993). This was a poem ("Just Listening to Stories") recalling my (one could say) "experience of not meeting" Raymond Carver (in the final year of that writer's life).

Though I'd developed & written in this form extensively (as explained), I'd never quite thought to beladen the form with a name ... till now. Micro-sonnet I feel suits it; mini-sonnet would not.

I don't reckon a reader can be expected to feel the character of the form from a single instance. Perhaps I'll write a few more in the present phase. (I've little interest right now in digging into the luggage or attic of yesteryear poems; I'd prefer to blogo-publish new things.) Bring me a picture new new, fresh fresh -- quoth Hafez-i-Shiraz (or words to that effect). (But perhaps I've lost my readers at this far end of the footnote. I'll whisper quiet amidst the slumber.)

//////////

iv) a correction + nomenclature (micro vs. mini)

Having said all that, it occurs to me the above is not identical to the much-used form of those bygone days. Oddly (despite having written perhaps 7 or 8 hundred of those specimens), far memory dimmed and the form contracted.

Yes the above is a more clipped & terse variant. (The original form involves 7 stanzas; the above is comprised of but 4.) So I'll call the original form a mini-sonnet; -- and this remains a micro-sonnet, after all.

4 Comments:

Blogger ~River~ said...

Every morning I have new things to read here!

"the habit of daily art" is a wonderful thing. It's the only way that makes sense to me in this world!

I think I prefer the mini over the micro. (Why call it a "sonnet", though? It shows such fine arrogance in subverting all existing definitions of that particular form. I like it, but give me your reasons!).

I also like the way they look on the page.

Thu Oct 06, 10:23:00 PM PDT  
Blogger david raphael israel said...

dear Reader,
your sensitive appreciations are sensitively appreciated.
"Sonnet" is (agreed) eliptical, but there's a thread of (strictly visual) connection -- to the Shakespearian (not the Petrarchian) sonnet form, specifically. If each stanza-moiety is deemed the "equivalent" of a "couplet," this should become evident for both mini- & micro-, no? It is a sonnet by distant visual metaphor, is all. Perhaps the pleasure of the form-name lies in its mild audacity. Or perhaps most names in this world send lines of assumption across so long a distance as this(!?) I believe it was Ted Barrigan who wrote a bunch of unrhymed sonnets; -- the main relation to the form being (perhaps) the stanzic conformation. This takes the trek some steps farther.
Philip Glass noted how when he worked with Robert Wilson (creating theatre-music-movement works for stage performance), the "subject" of the work was a focus allowing the work to form; but at times, the subject would come to bear such a mild relationship to the work, as to seem (though he didn't use this phrase) the merest historical whif. Thus, "The Life and Times of Josef Stalin" or "The Life and Times of Sigmund Freud" or "Einstein on the Beach" (3 such works of Wilson's -- though maybe Glass was only involved in the last-named) could happen and might make little ostensible reference to Stalin, Freud, or Einstein. The latter, come to think of it, does include a visual vignette of a man playing a violin (an instrument Einstein is reputed to have played); it also includes vocal repetition of numbers in sequence (and he was a mathematician). Still, it's not a biographical opera. But I digress.

The trace-whif of sonnet here is admittedly very mere. Perhaps, besides the hat-tip to "form-visuality," there's also the sense of a homeopathic (or more-than-that?) dose of romanticism? Or: it's reference by appropriation (one can have a revolution or a sonnet by other means?)...
Meseems the poet doth justify overmuch; but as you'd asked, those are reasons.

Fri Oct 07, 03:38:00 AM PDT  
Blogger ~River~ said...

Good, good, good.
I ask too many questions, but that's just the teacher in me!

Good answer, young man. You may sit down now. ;)

Fri Oct 07, 06:33:00 AM PDT  
Blogger david raphael israel said...

But Teach,
I'm already sitting!
I don't mind the question (that was eminently questionable). Poets are ensorcled into naming, n'est pas? kya bat? [vaguely thinking this could be the Hindi; but no, that's said emphatically, not w/ question... maybe kya bat hei? -- it seems today I yearn to learn a smidge of Hindi].

. . . Withal: maybe I'll work on terseness (at times). BTW, note I've added your Elephant blog to yon roster.

Sat Oct 08, 07:05:00 AM PDT  

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