Sunday, March 29, 2009

Paying It Forward

God, I love writing rules. Weighing them, fetishizing them, breaking them. Matt Cheney contributes a few delightful ones here (via Maud Newton). I can divvy up my writing career by each absolute that was ascendant, though I’ve never had to struggle against the rule about poets being allowed three exclamation points for their entire career. Surely, the illustrious Norman Dubie (who, um, has a MySpace page) has racked up a tremendous deficit here. I remember being told in workshop that gerunds were a cheap way of getting power into a poem, and for months afterward, I was afraid to conjugate for fear or an “ing.” For quite a long time, no verbs of cognition were allowed. The upside of being under the sway of such arbitrariness is dreaming about imposing your own. For instance, if I controlled the universe, I would immediately remove all initial caps at the beginning of a new line (since it always feel to me like shouting with your mouth closed.) Y’know, because that’s all that’s all stands in the way of great poems.

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