Saturday, April 30, 2005

WORKSHOP CONSTRAINTS

At our last poetry get-together, we started talking about workshop constraints. Since so much poetry comes from suffering, I suggested "constraints" along these lines :

1) Break up with your lover. Betray him or her. Then write a poem about the experience.
2) Become an addict: alcohol, crack, heroin, etc. Go through all the stages of addiction and recovery. Then write a poem about it.
3) Commit a serious crime. Murder, rob a bank, etc. Write a poem about it.
4) Admit yourself into a mental hospital. Undergo treatment with any of a number of anti-psychotics: haldol, risperdal, zyprexa. Undergo shock treatment (which, I hear, is coming back into fashion) . Write a poem about it.
5) Make a suicide attempt. Be serious about it. Slit your wrists, put your head in a gas oven, throw yourself off a high place or in front of a train. If you survive, write a poem about what it feels to be alive.

As one of my fellow poets said, "I wouldn't want to be in your workshop."

Well, I might succeed in doing what some workshop leaders manage to do anyway: eliminate the competition.

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