More on Formatting in Poetry

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Concrete poetry is the practice of making a poem look, on the page, like its topic. In the days of the typewriter, this took a lot of time, but when published, it has great appeal. On the interwebs, where everything has to be left justified, concrete poetry is pretty much just a silhouette. But there are ways to get around that, if all you are going for is the idea of the topic rather than an actual illustration. Here is one from a group of poems I am trying to put together about the dailiness of my life.

7:40 a.m.

BASE   BASE

color    color

liner    liner

lashes lashes

 

 

BOTH

LIPS

 

coffee coffee coffee

coffee

 

coffee

Inventing the Poet

“In order to write poetry, you must first invent the poet who will write it.” — Antonio Machado

poet

In this year-long lab in Innovative Inventions, we shall experiment

With a variety of elements, chemical compositions, media (including bricks

And Legos, crayons, pen and ink, and the dreams of flightless waterfowl),

Books, of course, lots of books, starting with a dictionary, thesaurus, all

The Peterson’s Guides—for birds, trees, flowers, gems, and librarians of

All stripes. You never know when you will run into the need to identify

Friend or foe, ibex or oboe, atlas or armillary sphere. What kind of poet

 

Are you going to make? The kind with frilly cuffs or the kind with battered

Shoes and a flannel shirt? The kind with a black beret and a bicycle, or

The kind with cufflinks and a VW Bug? Will the poet write in Chinese

Characters all the way down the window shade, or type some beatnik

Manifesto on the back of small cards to slip into unsuspecting readers’

Pockets: sub rosa poetry. What kind of shamanic powers will you endow

Your poet with? Incense and Latin chant is good, as is a walk in the woods,

 

Or a picket line, a fife and drum parade; avoid public readings as they cause

An unfortunate increase in hatband size. The chemicals come last, cheap wine,

Margaritas, Gatorade, tea and much, much coffee, particularly if yours

Is a morning poet, trained to greet the day as soon as the birds declare it

Has begun. Add foam and cinnamon or a rim of salt. Add the tears of broken

Love, the sweat of labors performed to pay the rent, the blood of ancestors.

Stir carefully. Such ingredients are flamboyant and may explode.