Thursday, June 12, 2008

In Liz Bradfield's fantastic workshop, "Rough Music: Incorporating Other Voices into Poems", she had us do a very cool exercise. She asked us to quickly write lyrics from songs we knew in high school, then she had us write down as many facts as we could about Alaska, then a list of words or rules from a trade, then phrases we knew in foreign languages, with translations, then mathematical or scientific formulas, then phrases we had overheard recently. She had also given us a sheet full of information about glaciers and the natural history of the area and asked us to circle the words and phrases that jumped out at us. After we did this, she had us pass the resulting pages to the person on our left, and she asked us to write a poem using their words.

This is what I came up with--all the words are from my neighbor, none are my own, yet in stringing them together, and choosing a line of her lyrics as a refrain, I found they spoke to me in an unexpected and profound way:

I have more memories than if I were a hundred years old
But you don't know me.
Saws, hammers, nails, vises, levels, drills, planes, screwdrivers, screws, chisels
But you don't know me.
E=MCsquared
But you don't know me.
Four or five ducks rose out of the sedge
But you don't know me.
The sky is above the roof
But you don't know me.
Plumb lines, trucks, lifts, siding, sheetrock, tiles, concrete
But you don't know me.
Magpies were in the balsalms
But you don't know me.
Cirque, corrie, cwm
But you don't know me.
They disappeared with a magic velocity
But you don't know me.
Je vous en pris (You're welcome)
But you don't know me.

4 comments:

catiporter said...

Very cool!!

Any idea which band/song the lyrics came from? It seems very familiar...

jonas said...

glad to see you're also blogging some of your workshop poems from the K-Bay conference. Here's a link to my poem, 800 Seeds that i wrote during your "writing from the senses" workshop.

jonas said...

oops try this one for 800 Seeds

gayle said...

Thanks so much, Cati and Jonas--and how wonderful to see your poem online, Jonas! I loved it in the workshop and am very happy to have a record of it now.

The lyrics are so familiar to me too, Cati, but I'm unsure of their origin. I'll see if Google will help. Ah yes, here it is: http://www.stlyrics.com/lyrics/mybestfriendswedding/youdontknowme.htm

:)

xo
gayle