My writing process is a bit like me: irrational.
Sometimes images seem to haunt me until I am compelled to write a poem around them; other times I do everything I can to “break my eye open” (this concept comes from my favorite TV series, “Six Feet Under.”) To break your eye open is exactly what it sounds like— to see the world in a new way, to make unusual associations. I do this is by delving into my subconscious—a fecund and frightening place. I love writing exercises for that reason. They help me find startling images and fresh language after I feel I’ve exhausted all of my own. One of my favorites is
a dada exercise that I learned from my wonderful poetry instructor in Spain– Jesús Urceloy. What a brilliant man. He had everyone follow the most specific and absurd instructions and the end result was amazing. For example, he made us write the word “lamp” on a sheet of paper and leave it near our bed. Upon waking we were to immediately write every word that came to mind when we thought of “lamp.” Then in class he made us write all of the words we associated with “fish” along with a series of other similar instructions. Towards the end we were to give one of the lines we had written to a partner as a gift. He then instructed us to recite our lines in a specific order, then at random until they began sounding like an incantation. Everyone wrote incredible poems and that class remains as one of my most beloved memories. I miss those people profoundly…
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