Matthew McCabe's Mesostomatic

[Used by permission of Matthew McCabe.]

Our purpose here is to enable you to get a feel for the mesostic form as a means of quasi-nonintentionally creating a poem by "writing through" a poem with which we're already familiar - somewhat the way we've seen Cage write through Ginsberg's "Howl."

Matthew McCabe has automated this process for us by writing a computer program which he's named the Mesostomatic. Choose a "spine" (such as your name, or "John Cage") and then enter a web site address (URL). McCabe's machine will generate a mesostic based on the text in that site. Try CNN's web site first to get examples. Or use "Julian Assange" as your spine and write through the Wikipedia entry on Wikileaks. (See the bottom of this passage for my own "Writing through Wikipedia.")

Your assignment here is to create a mesostic using your name as the spine and one of the poems we've studied in this course as a the sourcetext. You are writing yourself through our course.

Currently, though, Professor McCabe's machine sometimes doesn't deal well with some URLs for the online text of the poems in our course. It will sometimes generate errors and, for example, might "write through" the web page's mark-up code. I suggest that you choose one of the poems listed below, and select "5" or "10" for the number of mesostics to generate. Then look at the result and, if necessary, skip past the first several mesostic stanzas, which might show computer code or other errors. (Below you see the result of my writing through Whitman's "Song of Myself." I set the Mesostomatic to generate 10 mesostic stanzas and what you see below are the 8th, 9th, and 10th. "And / bLood // sniFf / In / beLch'd / woRds / voicE / wInd....")

Here below I offer you the URLs of poems we've studied so that you can get a better result than you might otherwise. But of course you are welcome to try the URLs for any of our poems.

--Al Filreis

Paste into the Mesostomatic these URLs for best results:

1. (Whitman's "Song of Myself")
2. (Stein's "Tender Buttons")
3. (Frost, "Mending Wall")
4. (Wilbur, "Death of a Toad")
5. (Lechlitner, "Lines for an Abortionist's Office")
6. (Ginsberg, "Howl")
7. (O'Hara, "The Day Lady Died")

Here is what results from my use of my own name as a spine in writing through Whitman's "Song of Myself":

Here is what results from my use of "Assange" as a spine in writing through the Wikipedia entry on Wikileaks: