Word Pyromania: Exercises That Can Spark
The playwright Tom Stoppard was once asked, Where do your ideas come from? He answered, I wish I knew. Id move there. Nevertheless, hes had a career full of ideas, and hes shaped them into great plays. For instance, a friend gave him a note once, telling him Freud, Lenin, and James Joyce all lived on the same block in Zurich in 1916 and he should write a play about it. It turned out to be true and that the dadaist Tristan Tzara lived nearby also, but no play arose from those facts until Stoppard discovered that Joyce and a minor diplomat named Henry Carr were embroiled in a lawsuit and counter suit over the cost of a suit. Carr had purchased it as his costume for the part of Jack Worthing in Joyces production of The Importance of Being Earnest, and Joyce wouldnt pay him back. The play is called Travesties. Its pretty brilliant. And the point is that it probably came not from facts and ideas but from fun with language, from the multiple meanings of the word suit.
This poetry workshop will be about fun with words. Well take a shot at one or two exercises less about whamming our ideas into lines for poems and more about letting language discover what it wants to.
Come with pens, paper, and a readiness to see what some new exercises might compel you to discover.
Rob Carney is a two-time winner of the Utah Book Award for Poetry and the author of three previous books and three chapbooks of poems, including Story Problems and Weather Report from Somondoco Press. His work has appeared in Cave Wall, Mid-American Review, Poetry Northwest, Quarterly West, Redactions, River Styx, Sugar House Review, other journals, as well as the Norton anthology, Flash Fiction Forward. In 2014 he received the Robinson Jeffers Tor House Prize for Poetry. His most recently published collection of work, 88 MAPS, is about the places, times, and wildness we should say yes to, and its about looking at all our real and figurative cul-de-sacs and saying no. Currently, he is a Professor of English at Utah Valley University.
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