28 Aug 2004, 11:42am
Creative Writing Poem Drafts
Comments Off on Poetry Starter Exercise

Poetry Starter Exercise

Well, one good thing came out of my check up. I came up with a new firestarter poetry exercise. Take a long word. (It’s unimportant which.)

List words that can be made with the letters from that word. For example, in “firestarter”, there is {fire, a, fir, start, restart, star, stare, tart, retreat, reef, tea, safe, tease, raise, fears, strafe,…}. Collect as many as possible.

Group them into sets of ideas, phrases and see if a story evolves or is suggested. Only words derived from the starter words are allowed. This is the constraint that promotes creativity, or at least, a good brain exercise. It becomes essentially a lipogram.

In the wait, after being one of the ones who went shopping and to visit a friend while in a clinic’s queue, I came up with this, from the word “spectacular” on the strip club as the role of the church.

late, secular st.

spectacular cures…

rules; later.

Cue parts:
a lap area, curls, Etc(!)
spur plea-
-sure. stare at places…
rate “art”.

rap plates,

real or cup ruse?
accuse, ecstac —

eat. sate?


22 Aug 2004, 5:00pm
Comments Off on Ghazal


A ghazal was originally a spoken word form in Persia which called for audience participation through some choral phrase. The rhyme within the constraints of the narrow form, the repeating and playing in meaning the way to make fresh turns of phrase was an exercise in cleverness which expressed itself almost musically.

I understand it like a song. There is nothing new to sing about. Love, hate, sadness, loss, loyalty and joy. You know. But this kind of poem can frame its chorus with different context to change the meaning of the chorus so, even though repeated, it is novel each time. For a simpler demonstration of how it works in Farsi, comapre to how this song by Kenny Chesney works. There Goes My Life has the chorus,

“And he said
there goes my life
there goes my future, my everything
might as well kiss it all good-bye
there goes my life…….”

In the first context it was said because his girlfriend was pregnant. His life as he knew it, was over.

With the second refrain he says it as he watches his toddler (who he dotes on) go up the stairs.

Then the third time the context is reshaped to give the words new significance as he watches his daughter pack up the car to move west to follow the dreams that he had and never got a chance to live.

Repetition isn’t repetition.

Ghazals such as Gino talks about, like haiku, and even sonnets, are like music, much debated, taken to, or shut out from heart, beyond words in way that seems impossible, moving in a nonverbal subverbal realm that rationality can argue with but not grasp. The ghazal and haiku forms have mutually disdainful authorities on what the archetypal English shape looks like.

I mentioned the last time that I was reading Bones in their Wings: Ghazals by Crozier. If you flipped through the thin volume without tasting a word, it looks innocuous.

Like a neat whisky, it looks watery, tiny shots of words. Gaze on it if you will but don’t swill. Don’t guzzle. Don’t underestimate the potency and knock back many in a row.

With Ghazals, some people’s lean towards pubs and versifying, good time had by all, some to well, one aspect or another. My aim isn’t to reiterate or regurgitate all the ins and outs of the form because this isn’t a thesis and you can come to your own conclusions as well as I can. But my conclusion as it stand now is that the proper play of ghazal is in Lorna Crozier’s hand as #12 making nimble cross connections, such as this,

“Chapped lips, squint lines. Sandpaper Wind,
how you bring out the grain, wear me down”

Even as I was reading I knew I was drinking them too fast. Now I’m in the hangover of ideas that makes my senses reel. The intensity of the form in the hands of a master needs to be sipped, not just to get the full effect of it, but to not be dizzied like this with a narrow wormhole of a migraine growing.

Let me pass you a sip. From Lorna Crozier’s Ghazal #5 comes this stunner of perfection. Not poetry but heroin in words.

I won’t intrude on her authorship to reprint the whole gold which sets this diamond, just this:

“Some doors will not close.
The cellar’s dank breath at your back.”

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