Monday, March 26, 2012

Poems with Numbers

      Hats off to the organizers and presenters at the 2012 Split This Rock Poetry Festival held in DC this past weekend.  Great poets, great programs, fantastically good company all around!!!
      Saturday at the festival,  Denny Shaw and I led a panel-workshop, "Counting On," in which we encouraged poets to use numbers to illuminate their poems of witness and protest.  Our samples of vivid effects of numbers included:  "At Arlington" by Wiley Clements, "The Idea of Ancestry" by Etheridge Knight, "Numbers for the Week" by Joan Mazza, “On Ibrahim Balaban’s Painting ‘The Prison Gates’” by Nazim Hikmet, “The Stalin Epigram” by Osip Mandlestam, “Bosnia, Bosnia” by June Jordan, “The Terrorist:  He’s Watching” by Wislawa Szymborska, and “Four Five Six” by Rosemary Winslow.
     Poetry from our workshop participants will be posted here when it is gathered.  We focused on humanitarian and political concerns -- and used our workshop writing times to try for  poems that use numbers in their imagery.  Here are two samples from me (both syllable-squares).

     Our jails hold
     5 times more 
     blacks than whites.

     More than 14 times as
     many service members 
     died in Afghanistan 
     and in Iraq as serve
     us in the US House 
     of Representatives.

And here is a a seasonal limerick:

     I slap at a bug and I blink.
     I miss -- and then stop to think.
     If there's more climate change--
     'Twill be my turn for gains--
     Those billions of bugs'll be extinct.

No comments:

Post a Comment