And I thought I’d mention this to you, see if you want to try it. It’s an exercise I’ve freely adapted from The Discovery of Poetry by Frances Mayes, poet and author of Under the Tuscan Sun. We are following along in Mary Oliver’s A Poetry Handbook. She’s talking about sound, and how the sounds of words are intricately connected to their meaning, whether by design or just association. It goes beyond that “bang” of automonapia. She uses the example of how “hush” differs from “please be quiet,” or “shut up.”
The suggestion (I hate to use the word assignment) was to write down about 50 words, favorite words, but favorites that you prize for the way they sound, particularly if their sound links to their meaning for you. That’s it, the first “assignment.”
But after this Tuesday when we talk a bit about practice and imitation, about the way art students will sit before great paintings to copy them, to study, to learn, we will suggest this: Take one of the poems we’ve talked about, one that resonates with you, and write a piece that mimics the style or form of that poem. Do this using your list of fifty favorite words.
Give it a try. I’ll post more links to the poems we’ll be reading Tuesday, so you can have the whole list of what we’ve read so far.