Project: Cut Up Poem #3

For this cut up, I pulled couplets from the Winter 2004-2005 issue of Ploughshares.  Although there were a number of excellent poems in the issue, I did find it particularly challenging to find lines that fit together well -there seemed to be a lot poems that employed the past tense, relied heavily on dialogue, or tackled subject matter and images that really weren’t meshing with my first few chosen couplets. I did have two other couplets I really liked, but ended up dropping them due to differences in tense or tone.

Project: Cut Up Poem #2

This cut up poem is based on couplets from the 2013 Triple Issue of South Dakota Review.  For this one, I choose to use exclusively couplets from writers of color who appear in this issue. Ironically, one of the contributors in that issue is Yi-Fen Chou, the pseudonym of Michael Derrick Hudson, who regularly posed as a Chinese American writer in order (in his mind) to have a better chance of getting published. He revealed his ruse once one of his poems was accepted and published in a volume of Best American Poetry — a scandal which led to a very important discussion about identity, race, stereotypes, and representation in literary publishing.

Project: Cut Up Poem #1

When I went down to Los Angeles in November last year to empty my storage unit (and do some poetry readings), I discovered that at some point (probably during the terrible rain storms that hit in earlier in 2017), water had leaked from the roof and damaged some of boxes of books I had stored.  In total, I lost around 30 books (out of 900) and 50% of a collection of sample issues from different literary journals (roughly 100 items ruined). While I wasn’t particularly attached to the literary journals (they were just representative samples I sometimes use in workshops), I did feel sad that they were all headed to the dump.  So I decided to try to find a way to salvage them — the reclaim a line or two from different poems and weave them together into something new. In the end, I choose to use couplets rather than single lines (so these aren’t centos exactly — although you might argue they’re 2-per-centos (gah, I can’t believe I just wrote that!).

I’ve made two today, this one is based on couplets drawn from a 2002 issue of Poetry. 

The 90th Anniversary issue of Poetry had a surprisingly large number of poems which referred to birds, which certainly end up finding their way into this piece. I’m very happy with how this one came together — especially given how different the original poems where, not only in subject matter, but also in tone and form.