I didn’t not follow the Day 2 prompt for NaPoWriMo, which encourages participants to write a poem “that plays with voice.” I just didn’t challenge myself to use voice in a different way than I have been using it recently. The poems in my Predictive Text series frequently conflate “you” (second-person point of view) with “I” (first-person point of view), and since the “I” in these poems is a loosely fictionalized version of me (that is, me, Gillian actual), this fluidity between pronouns allows readers to imagine the events in these poems as happening to them. In theory, this shift in point of view that positions readers as the speaker of the poem should make the details of the poem feel more universal (as opposed to highly personal). In theory.
Currently, my Introduction to Creative Writing students at Wheelock College are reading Citizen by Claudia Rankine, a book which uses “you” to challenge the reader’s position in a powerful and evocative way. If you haven’t read Citizen yet, put that book on hold at your local library tout de suite! In the meantime, you can read excerpts here, here, here, and here. Afterwards, try to answer the question I asked my students to reflect on:
In Citizen, Claudia Rankine addresses “you” throughout the book. Where do you recognize yourself in the encounters described in Citizen, if at all? What perspectives or angles of experience were you surprised to inhabit, and why? How does Rankine’s choice to use second person point of view affect your experience as a reader? How does Rankine’s choice to use second person point of view affect your experience as a citizen?
(question courtesy of the National Endowments for the Arts reader’s guide for Citizen)
I’ve posted my 2/30 draft below. It disappointed me right away, and I’ve already revised it multiple times, but here’s the original version:
I’m folding this year’s NaPoWriMo challenge into my #writeeveryday goal, and I will post my drafts, or portions of them, here throughout the month. Lately, I’ve been experimenting with using the memo app on my phone to write poems loosely based on events in my life; it’s a play on the daybook concept Jessica has been exploring (read excerpts here, here, here, and read more about Jessica’s daybooks project here) one in which I also explore the limitations (and possibilities) of the predictive text function on my phone.
Today’s prompt did inspire this poem, although I stuck closer to the prompt’s inspiration (Lauren Russell’s exercise which invites writers to consider the body’s capacity for monstrosity and pleasure, shame and desire) than to the idea of a secret shame or guilty pleasure.
I asked the talented and witty John Berry to document our second resident reading, and he did a lovely job. Voilà:
Phil Palmedo, drawn by John G. Berry
Jenna McGuiggan, drawn by John G. Berry
Liz Edelglass, drawn by John G. Berry
Catherine Despont, drawn by John G. Berry
Gillian Devereux, drawn by John G. Berry
Char Wilkins, drawn by John G. Berry
I’m participating in a resident reading tonight, and a lot of people asked if I would be projecting images of the visual poetry I’ve been working on here. I immediately thought of pictures I’ve seen of Jessica reading her poems as they’re projected on a big screen behind her. I would like to be like Jessica.
But, since no other readers will be using a projector tonight, I decided to wait until the final Open Studios of the month to try and share some of my visual work. In the meantime, I promised to post some pictures of my daily Tarot card erasures here. (As always, you can click on a picture to enlarge it.)
I am less interested in the fortune telling properties of Tarot cards than I am in their origin. I like the idea that a rich Italian aristocrat might have commissioned a hand-painted set of playing cards that included extra allegorical trump cards on a whim. I like to imagine a world where people play ordinary card games with Tarot decks. I also love seeing depictions/interpretations of Tarot cards in popular culture. For instance, a particular Tarot card plays a major role in the film The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. You might not know this, because you are possibly an adult person who does not read large quantities of YA fiction and/or watch a lot of television and films whose target audiences are adolescent girls. But I watched City of Bones while I was knitting the other night, so I know all about it. Those cards were hand-painted, too. Everything comes full circle.
Not the scene with the Tarot card.
Several of the other residents, mostly visual artists and nonfiction writers, had questions about The Deletionist, how it works, and how often I use it to make it poems. (I can answer that last question by saying that I experiment with my deletionist button fairly often but find I only rarely get truly interesting results.)
I promised to share another “successful” erasure created by me and The Deletionist, an erasure of a digitally annotated version of “Eurydice” by H.D. You can read the full erasure here. I’ve also included an image of one of the screenshots below.