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Poetry Assignments: The Book (Online): Stupid Money, Dumb Politicians, & Celebrating America

POETRY ASSIGNMENTS

Brian Warner's The Cave

“The Cave” by Brian Warner. Used with the permission of Brain Warner.

or 100 Jackhammers for the Poet with Writer’s Block;

or 100 Ways to Jumpstart the Engine;

or 100 Pencil Exercises;

or 100 Ways to Stimulate Your Next Wine, Cheese, & Poetry Night

//

Table of Contents

Introduction

  1. Finding the First, Discovering the Middle, & Chasing the End
  2. Imaginary Worlds
  3. Science, the Universe, Time, & Other Evolutions
  4. Fun with Letters, Words, Language, & Languages
  5. Forms: Obscure, Updated, & Invented
  6. New School; or Double Vision; or WWI (Writing While Intoxicated) & Its Repercussions
  7. Miscellany; Trying to Relate the Unrelated; or These Gotta Go Some Place . . . So Here
  8. Stupid Money, Dumb Politicians, & Celebrating America
  9. Responses; or Calling All Poets (Dead & Alive); or Talking to Eternity
  10. It’s All About You

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Stupid Money, Dumb Politicians, & Celebrating America

Money Sucks; Money is Oppressive

Somewhere along the way money was thrust upon us. We are now forced to use money against our will. Some of us are no good with money, & yet we are forced to deal with it. And the lazy wealthy – who are talentless, make money off the poor working people – they break our backs. But what if the currency was different? . . .

I think humans are creative people. I think money stifles creativity, except for the creative scammers – the lazy wealthy, the usurers. But what if the currency of the world was Art?

That’s your assignment. Explore a world in which Art is currency. The Art currency of your world can be whatever you want – paintings, music, poems, sculptures, etc., or a combination.

In my imagination, the currency is paintings. So the painters are the wealthy, & the art critics are the bankers & the stock brokers, who invest in trends – Dada is down 20 points today, Cubism is up 5 1/8, Dogs Playing Poker remains unchanged, etc.

As Mike Dockins said when I explained this idea to him, “I wrote a poem today. I’m rich.”

Go forth. Make art. Have a wealthy life!

(9-2-06 addendum): Definitions for paragraphs one & two of poetry assignment: The Rich – Work for a living. The Wealthy – Pay the Rich their salaries. In paragraph three, the wealthy are beautiful, but the bankers and stock brokers – the usurers – are still evil and vile.

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Writing like the Politicians Speak

This is what I wrote to myself halfway through Tim Parks’ Medici Money: Banking, Metaphysics, and the Art in Fifteenth-Century Florence (W. W. Norton & Co., 2005):

If you want to write a poem of/on politics, try the following method: Use meter &, perhaps, rhyme. Create the appearance of stability. Lay on top of that the language of ambiguity & uncertain clarity. Use a twisted syntax with its own logic – flowing & contradictory. Make sure there is a lot of change happening in your narrative, or lyric. And end as you have begun (but try to cover a time frame equal to a generation or two or five.) – for nothing really changes – hence the stability of meter & rhyme to carry the chaos of content.

But this will only work, I think & maybe wrongly, if you are writing a political poem of direct confrontation. It may or may not work if you are just brushing up against something political as your poem naturally moves on its own way.

Ok. Now go get Poetilitical. If you want, start your poem “With Usura” as Pound begins Canto XLV of The Cantos & as Parks begins Medici Money.

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Quarter Tales; or Two Bits is Worth One Poem, or a Shave & a Haircut

California QuarterThe U.S. Mint is pressing out the new quarters with state themes. Each state quarter has a few images on the tail’s side that are associated with the state’s culture, personality, history, geography, myths, etc. For instance, California’s quarter “depicts naturalist and conservationist John Muir admiring Yosemite Valley’s monolithic granite headwall known as ‘Half Dome’ and also contains a soaring California condor” (U. S. Mint).

Your assignment is to create a narrative from the images that appear on a state’s quarter. Each image must appear in the poem, & hopefully each image will appear twice to make the narrative cyclical, like the quarter. (You do not necessarily have to write about the state the images are representing.)

For more information & for pictures of the quarters, go to this PDF from the U.S. Mint: https://www.usmint.gov/downloads/mint_programs/50sqInfo.pdf.

It’s advised to actually hold & stare at the actual quarter you are writing about. The quarter may affect you in ways a picture of it cannot. Its texture might effect your perceptions, or it may even talk to you. Who knows? But the physical connection with the quarter will only be beneficial.

If you are lucky & determined enough, you could have a whole book of 50 poems, which, of course, will be titled Quarter Tales, &, of course, people will only be able to purchase the book with quarters. And if you are doubly lucky, you might even get it published by 2008 – the year of the last five state quarters: Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, Alaska, & Hawaii.

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The Cave (Winner of The Bitter Oleander Press Library of Poetry Book Award for 2013.)

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