Sunday, July 13, 2008
2nd (Soma)tic Exercise Workshop
Today CA Conrad will present his second ever (Soma)tic Exercises wkshop in Philadelphia. Below are the exercises he will present. Having participated in the first of four workshops that will take place in Philadelphia this month last weekend, I can attest to the originality and value of these workshops, which seek to relocate the composing subject by injecting disequilibrium into familiar habits of attention and (un)awareness during different moments of a composing process.
The term for this process of disequilibrium Conrad coins I LOVE, and find immensely productive for thinking thru a pedagogy for (poetic) composition, THE FILTER; where to "put" a filter on experience is to enable different modes of information and attractions to permeate the site of composition.
Like Jack Spicer before him, as well as the Bernstein/Mayer of their 70s Poetry Project workshops, Conrad proves the site of composition a site of "outside," where to deliberately mediate the "self" as an intention of writing may perhaps seek what a (compositional) body *does*. That is, what a poem *can do*, and so the "person" as an extension of the poem's intuitions, desires, vicissitudes, whims, swerves...
Check-out the ongoing (Soma)tic Exercises project at: http://somaticpoetryexercises.blogspot.com
1: TIME TRAVEL NOTES: At a street corner pause to see how sunlight comes down to enter the landscape just as it has for millions of years. After a little while imagine the fern or blackberries from before the buildings and sidewalks. Was there a nest of squirrels? The death of a snake? Where are you in time? As you time travel WRITE WRITE WRITE! Take notes about what you’re seeing. PLEASE take time out to just WRITE as fast as you can after you have been absorbing your time travel. JUST WRITE, and WRITE FAST no matter if you think it looks like nonsense or not, there’s so much that wants to be revealed.
2: FOOD IS YOUR BODY IS YOUR POEMS: We will go to Whole Foods Market. Once we get into the store we will split up. Take time looking at the foods, smelling the foods, tasting samples. The cells of our bodies, and our muscles, bones, brain cells, EVERY SINGLE PART OF US is created by the food we eat. Imagine your body when looking at a piece of fruit, or a box of something frozen or in a jar. SEE yourself in this. SEE who you are in this. How do you feel when you eat certain foods? Take notes. Then find one food YOU LOVE! Instead of notes, stand in front of this food and WRITE quickly and without thinking. Find a food YOU HATE and do the very same thing. Think of food that doesn’t exist, like a piece of fruit. Invent it. Is it from a tree, a bush, or other kind of plant or vine? What does this fruit taste like and look like? Where would you find it in the store? Go to where it would be if it existed and SEE IT THERE. Does this fruit have special powers when you eat it, like the power of invisibility? Take notes.
3: STATE OF THE STATUES : There are no less than 16 statues in the Logan Circle Fountain area, such as Rodin’s THINKER, Shakespeare, famous revolutionaries, dinosaurs, Jesus, etc. Imagine these statues have been wanting to converse with one another for decades but are too spread out to do so. Choose two, or three on the map provided and go to them, spending time thinking what they would have to say and share with the others you choose. Take notes on the statues, take some time after you have absorbed the statue and write whatever you want and as fast as you can. Suppose that one of the statues tells you that there is a MISSING statue, a statue which has been removed many years ago before you were born. What was it? Take notes and write as much as you can.
In (Soma)tic Poetry THE FILTERS function as the focal point of the information gained through the exercises to shape the poem. For this second day of 3 maneuvers FILTER with the two words: FORSEE (or FORSEEABLE or any other form of this word), and NAKED. With THE FILTERS you take all of your notes and begin to write poetry about or through these two words, shaping and editing as you go. But it’s important to note that THE FILTERS are only guides, and to help you shape the poem.
YOUR TAKE-HOME EXERCISE
What poem by someone else is your favorite poem? Copy it out by hand (please do not type it) on unlined paper. I ask that you use unlined paper so as not to limit the FEELINGS you may have when copying it out. Once you have finished copying the poem go to the blank spaces in the margins or bottom, or wherever on THAT page and write VERY QUICKLY AND WITHOUT THINKING notes about HOW YOU FEEL AT THAT MOMENT. Later that same day eat some dark chocolate and immediately begin copying the same poem again on another piece of unlined, clean paper. Take MORE notes, and WRITE AS FAST AS YOU CAN ABOUT HOW YOU ARE FEELING AT THAT MOMENT. The next morning get in the shower, scrubbing well, then end the shower with COLD WATER, then get out, quickly dry off, and immediately begin the process again of copying the poem by hand and making note of HOW YOU ARE FEELING. After this take all the notes you have made and pull words out of those notes to form a poem FILTERED through the words MAUL and MEASURE.