Summer Intensive Writing Workshop 2007
McGhee Division/Writing and Speech Program School of Continuing
and Professional Studies
New York University
June 10 – 22, 2007
Two key resources:
The Electronic Poetry Center
I can't be at the gathering on Sunday, June 10, but you
can start right in on the first assignment. Email me the results & this first assignment
and I will bring in for computer projection on Monday. It's not
necessary to make copies if you email me by Monday morning. But
note, for this and all workshops: you must bring a copy of your
own work to each session.
1. Monday, June 11, 2-5pm
Bernadette Mayer, "Before
Lee Ann Brown, "Pledge," Michael
Magee, "Pledge" from Morning Constitutional (go
to p.37 of pdf
Kenneth Goldsmith, "Head
§Substitution (1): "Mad libs." Take
a poem (or other source text) and put blanks in place of three
or four words in each line, noting the part of speech under each
blank. Fill in the blanks being sure not to recall the
§ Substitution (2): "7 up or down." Take
a poem or other, possibly well-known, text and substitute another
word for every noun, adjective, adverb, and verb; determine the
substitute word by looking up the index word in the dictionary
and going 7 up or down, or one more, until you get a syntactically
§ Substitution (3): Find and replace. Systematically
replace one word in a source text with another word or string
of words. Perform this operation serially with the same
source text, increasing the number of words in the replace string.
Note: start with the first and do all three if time and
if there's more time go a second round.
ON Tuesday afternoon: special assignment:
Write down everything you hear for one hour.
§Write a poem consisting entirely of overheard
(See Kenneith Goldsmith's Soliloquy.)
Send this to me by email.
2. Weds, June 12, 2-5pm
Homophonic & Dialect
and Celia Zukofsky's Catullus [password required:
please check with me to get this password]
examples of mine: from
Basque and from
Dialect reading/listening: Steve McCaffery's translation
of the Communist Manifesto into West Riding of Yorkshire dialect: audio, text
Foin Lass" [requires the password!]
Extenstions (optional): David Melnick's Homer at Eclipse: Men
in Aida -- part
one and part
Silliman on homophonic translation (his own, Melnick's, and
Kageyam's translation of Pound's "The Return" into pidgin
(Hawaiian Creole English).
translation: Take a poem in a foreign language that you can pronounce
but not necessarily understand and translate the sound of the
poem into English (i.e., French "blanc" to blank or "toute" to
§Try a variant of these translation exercises
using the "Lost
in Translation" "Babel" engine, or other web-based translations
engines, such as Babelfish, Free
Translation.com and Logopoeia's
Shortwave Radio Engine.
§Translate or compose a poem or other work
into a different dialect, your own or other. Dialect can include
subculture lingo, slang, text messaging shothand, etc.
§Use the dialect
3. Thurs, June 13, 2-5
Chance Operation & the
Assassins" from Stanzas for Iris Lezak (string word
is the poem title)
nd Ends from Ez (string word: Ezra Pound)
Burroughs on cut-ups & Brion
Gysin on cut-ups
§ Acrostic chance: Pick a book at random
and use title as acrostic key phrase. For each letter of
key phrase go to page number in book that corresponds (a=1, z=26)
and copy as first line of poem from the first word that begins
with that letter to end of line or sentence. Continue through
all key letters, leaving stanza breaks to mark each new key word. Variations
include using author's name as code for reading through her or
his work, using your own or friend's name, picking different
kinds of books for this process, devising alternative acrostic
procedures. Or use the web Mac
Low diastic engine.
§ Tzara's hat: Everyone in a group
writes down a word (alternative: phrase, line) and puts it in
a hat. Poem is made according to the order in which it
is randomly pulled from hat. (Solo: pick a series of words
or lines from books, newspapers, magazines to put in the hat.) "Language
Is a Virus" has an engine that makes poems from your
selected vocabulary list, a cross between "Tzara's Hat" and "Mad
§ Burroughs's fold-in: Take two
different pages from a newspaper or magazine article, or a book,
and cut the pages in half vertically. Paste the mismatched
pages together. (Cf.: William Burroughs’s The
Third Mind.) Use the computer Lazarus
cut-up engire to perform a similar task automatically; also
engines at "Language
Is a Virus:" Cut
Up Machine, Slice-n-Dice, Exquisite
Cadavulator, & God's
Rude Wireless. And: Ron
Starr's travesty engine
§ General cut-ups: Write a poem composed entirely
of phrases lifted from other sources. Use one source for
a poem and then many; try different types of sources: literary,
historical, magazines, advertisements, manuals, dictionaries,
instructions, travelogues, etc. See cut-up engines listed
4. Monday, June 18, 2-5pm
(K)not!, or Is Free Writing Free?
Kerouac on spontaneous bop prosody
Desires of Mothers to Please Others in Letters - Excerpt
Hannah Weiner, Clairvoyant
begins here & read with audio
MP3 (26:48): first couple of pages is fine.
Clark Coolidge, from American
§Write a poem in which you try to transcribe as accurately
as you can your thoughts while you are writing. Don't edit
anything out. Write as fast as you can without planning what
you are going to say.
§ Autopilot: Trying as hard as you can not to think
or consider what you are writing, write as much as you can as
fast you can without any editing or concern for syntax, grammar,
narrative, or logic. Try to keep this going for as long as possible:
one hour, two hours, three hours: don't look back don't look
§ Dream work: Write down your dreams as the
first thing you do every morning for 30 days. Apply translation
and aleatoric processes to this material. Double the length
of each dream. Weave them together into one poem, adding or changing
or reordering material. Negate or reverse all statements
("I went down the hill to "I went up the hill," "I
didn't" to "I did"). Borrow a friend's dreams
and apply these techniques to them.
§Write a poem just when you are on the verge of falling
asleep. Write a line a day as you are falling asleep or
for further reading/exploration
Workshp 5-- on Tuesday June
19 -- is across genres
I provide this list for your information, since you will
be in a different workshop for this week.
Web-Generated Poems / Found Poems / Appropriation
K. Silem Mohammad, Deer
Head Nation. In Deer Head Nation, Mohammad uses
the Google search page result as his basic text, editing from
there: “You punch a keyword or keywords or phrase into
Google and work directly with the result text that gets thrown
up. I paste the text into Word and just start stripping stuff
away until what’s left is interesting to me, then I start
meticulously chipping away at and fussing with that.”
FLARF: A recent extension of this approach, which is developing
independently, is called "flarf." Michael Magree explains,
in this Experiments List exclusive report, "The
Flarf Files." See also: a
negative view of Flarf & Jacket's Flarf
Poem: construct a poem using Leevi Lehto's engine (use the patterns feature).
§ Try also: The
Apostrophe Engine, the source for Apostrophe: The Book by
Bill Kennedy and Darren Wershler-Henry.
§ Google poem, based on M. Silem Mohammad's Deer
Head Nation : use Google search results as the source material
for a poem: erase as much as you like, but don't add anything.
Many variations possible.
Write a collage made up of full-lines of selected source poems.
§ "Pits": Write the worst possible poem
you can imagine
§Use the "Meaning
Eater" engine to deform the text of a poem.
§Data Mining (variation of some of the above): see
6. Thurs, June 21, 2-5pm
Wednesday June 20, in the afternoon, go to the Grey
Art Gallery on the NYU campus. Hours:
Tuesdays/Thursdays/Fridays: 11:00 am – 6:00 pm
OPEN LATE Wednesdays: 11:00 am – 8:00 pm
(translating the verbal into visual)
NOTE: the class will walk over the gallery to present the work
in situ. But we will meet in the usual semiar room at Ireland
Select a work
in the show
and write a poem about or in relation to it.
You are free to approach this assignment as you like,
but let me make this initial suggestion: Write down everything
you see in the work, a complete description. This can be in prose.