Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The poet realizes she has NEVER had an original idea...

This week's readwritepoem prompt was to cut up the words in a text (newspaper article, memo, anything), draw the words randomly, and write them down in that order. Then, we were to see what poem we could make with them. I used a memo about ordering textbooks for next semester as a vehicle for purging my poetic insecurities. The actual purge was less than successful, but I got this poem out of it. The words from the memo are in bold.

I’ve got that fraudulent feeling,
Like my work is nothing more than gum
On the bottom of a real poet’s shoe.

Like I’ve enrolled in a course
Without meeting the prerequisites.

Like the stanzas I send out into cyberspace
Have already been written,
Are in fact illegal adoptions,
Botched abortions,
Of select, sacred texts.

Like I’ve acquired my images by requisition,
Didn’t even say please,
For ideas illegally confiscated.

And soon,
I will be found out, punished.

Sentenced to a life term
At open mic night
In a bookstore coffee shop.
Where I am forced to read
My bastard verses
In an endless loop
To the English faculty from my alma mater
While I am naked
And they are clothed
In caps and gowns
And righteous disappointment.


  1. Ah! I love this! You are so fabulous. This makes me happy. Thank you.

  2. I am tweeting this out, too. :)

  3. Wow! This might be my favorite one in a long time . . . "illegal adoptions and botched abortions" - Perfect!!! And the image of the naked self on exhibit for the lettered mob . . . the stuff of goosebumps! Bravo, friend! I am so proud to call you friend!

  4. This rocks. I wrote something along a similar vein some time ago and can feel your fear.

    This is an amazing poem.

  5. Recognize that feeling! Beautifully done--thank you.

  6. This stanza rocks:

    "Like the stanzas I send out into cyberspace
    Have already been written,
    Are in fact illegal adoptions,
    Botched abortions,
    Of select, sacred texts."

    Terma Rima: psychedelic pajamas

  7. Ah! The ambiguous dream of exposure!

    Nicely done. I like your angsty expression of a realization that ideas / words / thoughts/ turns of phrase are the shared patrimony of us all and that a very large part of our creativity is always and unavoidably a re-expressing of what has already been said.

    And yet we try. If all we accomplish is a chant of others' glories, we still sing the liturgy on which the universe, our universe, rests.

    Very nice, Erin.

  8. Freckles you did good. "Like my work is nothing more than gum on the bottom of a real poet's shoe". Now that is poetry. I once felt naked about my writing so now I write naked so I can be clothed by my poetry. You brought relevance of thought all poets have to your work and I applaud you for that. Thanks Erin, I like the poem.

  9. "And soon,
    I will be found out, punished." Oh, yeah. I know that one.
    I like your variant of the cut-up, too--sanity.

  10. Great job assembling the arbitrary words from the memo into something much more meaningful and with which I think all of us can identify. Insecurity is such a part of writing, in fact in the proper doses it can actually be a motivator.

  11. Excellent - a moving read that strains nerve endings, raises welts on the timid ego. I loved this! BTW - I'm just across the stateline and it's nice to find you!

  12. This ends beautifully and poetically and proves itself false in doing so - check your shoes, I'm pretty sure you're the one with the gum :)

  13. This is a lovely spirited poem, Erin. I love the phrases of insecurity and the different points of view. The poem is very well crafted. Thank you for the bookstore image. It speaks volumes. =D

  14. Wonderful! I also feel like this as a painter :-). There is nothing new!

  15. Hi Erin,

    An excellent piece and you did lots more work, writing around the cut out words! I really liked:
    "Like I’ve acquired my images by requisition,
    Didn’t even say please,"
    I haven't been here for a while. Is that because I haven't seen your WRP prompt entries or you haven't been doing them? If it's me, I'm sorry!

  16. You are a stunning poet. Someone above said it was their favorite poem of yours for awhile, and I agree. It just knocks me out, blows me away, brings me to my knees. It doesn't describe you, of course, because it describes me and my attempts at poetry - - but, understandably, it took you to express my (and others') ineptitude with the art form!
    I do hope you publish your poems in the future.

  17. nicely done.....and lots to like here...thanks for sharing

  18. Wonderful! I especially love the last stanza.

  19. from Therese L. Broderick -- this is great! I love the legal extended metaphor, and all the "like" similes -- with those two poetic devices alone, you say so much about all of us poets who desperately work for "original" metaphors and similes. I love the English faculty as the judges -- but as "righteous" judges, meaning that they are just as guilty, for they taught you. A delicious read! (P.S. I once read an essay (not T.S. Eliot) that argued that poets must NOT strive to be original, that they must be aware of their heritage and must be highly attuned to how they draw upon their literary ancestors for material. It is less important to be original, more important to be indebted. And, of course, Eliot has something to say about originality...)

  20. Greetings from Casa Hice!

    I just popped over from Kathleen's blog where she gave you an award and said your poetry would leave me breathless. By coming here I learned two more things about Kathleen: she doesn't lie and she doesn't exaggerate. Wow. Wow, wow, wow!

    {Excuse me while I catch my breath...}

    I simply adore this poem and relate to it. Don't we all to some degree thing we are fraudulently coasting through life on the coattails of someone much better, greater and more worthy. Why is that, I wonder. If we are all looking over our shoulders at the genuine and authentic ones and they are looking over their shoulders at us... then who's who?

    Poignant writing, Erin. I'm following you immediately and will be looking forward to more.

    Please stop by mi casa sometime and let's get better acquainted!