Tag Archives: David Bowie

The Bowie Poems and Thoughts on Manuscript Organization

I’ve been out of orbit for awhile, in terms of blogging, mostly due to balancing teaching, writing, and “studenting” responsibilities.  I’m prepping for my comprehensive exams, so I’ve been maintaining a separate blog of research notes, and the summer term brought my teaching total to 14 courses for the year.  Then, of course, there’s the writing, which is the whole point of this blog, so I’ll get to it!

In short,  the Bowie Poems Project is finished.  It’s been my primary creative focus since late January, and I  just put the final touches on it yesterday.  The next phase of its actualization is still pretty embryonic, but I’ll certainly be updating if and when things progress.  I’m so freaking that this endeavor, which started as a single poem intended to be a one-off, is now a full-feathered creative beast in its own right. In any event, I thought I’d like to use my next few post reflect on the process, as it was a fairly intense one for me.

  • Writing a Collection Poems is Different from “Curating” a Collection of Poems

When it became clear that the Bowie Poems would be more of a collection than a small series,  I really didn’t think about how the production experience would differ from putting together my first full-length collection, or, for that matter, and of my indie chapbooks from my early slam days.  That being said, the sense of accomplishment I felt when I put the finishing touches on my Bowie manuscript was very different from my euphoria upon completing the manuscript for How a Bullet Behaves. I definitely think this is due to the fact that the process for each of these projects was very different.  When I began preparations for How a Bullet Behaves, I had a thematic plan for the book in mind, although it evolved slightly throughout the process.  This thematic thread determined, to a great extent, which poems I selected for inclusion in the collection.  However, I was mainly selecting pieces from a preexisting body of work, as opposed to producing new pieces for the collection as I went.  (I did write a few new poems for the collection as I went, but the assembly process was more organizational and discriminatory as a whole.) The bottom line is, when I wrote the poems that ultimately made up How a Bullet Behaves, I was not necessarily able to envision how they might work as part of a larger collection.  My work on the Bowie Poems was, however, more structured from the start.  As soon as I decided to write a series of found poems using David Bowie lyrics, as opposed to just a stand-lone piece, I envisioned a collection that would organized chronologically, according to album release year.  This not only determined the book’s layout, but also the means of the poems’ production.  With only two exceptions, I following the chronology of Bowie’s discography when writing the poems, as well.  I feel like this created an extra layer of synergy between the writing process and the layout process.  Additionally, because I’d already envisioned a plan for the project, the layout process was notably less laborious for the Bowie Poems than for HABB.

So, what does it all mean?  As a Western author, I’m wary of the Western tendencies of binary thinking, and my purpose is not to pose one of these experiences as superior to the other.  My goal is rather to invite authors to examine the ways in which different factors can influence the experiences they have when pulling a poetry manuscript together.  The elements I’ve discussed represent only a fraction of those that might impact this kind of experience, as many authors have, no doubt, already observed.  In the meantime, I’m currently working on my next full-length collection, and I’m finding that my approach is a bit of a cross between the two I’ve discussed.  While I did write most of the poems with this collection in loosely in mind, I also culled some pieces that had been written quite independently of any intention for a collection.  I’m also still in the process of writing about a quarter of the poems that will ultimately be included.  Now that I’ve reflected upon the process of compiling two previous collections, I’m wondering if they had any bearing upon the way I approached the third.

That’s it for now!  Happy reading, writing, and living.

 

 

 

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The Bowie Found Poems: Space Oddity

Welcome to the lastest installment in the David Bowie Found Poetry Project!  Eventually, I’ll get a better name for it, but at least this one’s descriptive.  If you’re new to the site, you can check out the project’s inception here.   After working with “Diamond Dogs,” I decided to loop back to the beginning, and the second poem in this series is crafted with lyrics from the album “Space Oddity.”

Bless You Madly

A found poem of lyrics sourced from the album “Space Oddity”

 

We broke the ruptured structure built of age,

and I’m not obliged to read you statements of the year,

but my head’s full of murders

where only killers scream.

They say you sparkle like a different girl,

but you cry a little in the dark,

because I’ve got to keep my veil on my face

because I love you badly,

because the rats chew my bones

and there’s a cash machine spitting by my shoulder.

 

Your strange demand to collocate my mind

scares me into gloom.

The hangman plays the mandolin

before he goes to sleep,

before he sweeps the pillow clean.

He dreams our weapons were the tongues

of crying rage

and his, a phallus in pigtails.

I tell him,

Put your helmet on.

I got eyes in my backside

and I’m stepping through the door.

And as the sunrise stream flickers on me,

no purse of token fortune stands in our way

and my spaceship knows which way to go.

 

We burnt one hundred days,

and I still hold some ashes to me.

I can’t touch your name—it burns my wall with time,

unwashed and somewhat slightly dazed,

but I paint that love upon a white balloon

and fly it from the toppest top of all the tops.

 

 

 

Which album should I work with next?

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Grieving for David Bowie Through Found Poetry

On January 11th, I woke at 5:55 feeling sick.  Because I was working from home that day, I took a couple Tylenol, and hopped online, planning to go back to bed once they kicked in.  Almost immediately, I saw the news of David Bowie’s death.  That day, it was not Macbeth, but death itself, that murdered sleep.  Thus began a day of profound grief for the whole world.  I holed up in my bedroom with my laptop, teaching my online classes and intermittently bursting into tears.  I’ve never been so strongly affected by the death of someone I didn’t know personally.  David Bowie’s artistry has had an tremendous impact on both my identity and the way I live my life, and I’m so grateful for the body of work he left behind.  As I’ve been navigating this, there have been moments  when I’ve felt like I didn’t have the right to mourn this loss, or that it wasn’t a “real” loss.  (I also have a weird, irrational fear that, to punish me for grieving over a virtual stranger, the universe is going to take away someone legitimately close to me.  ‘Cause, you know, I need more stuff to worry about.  I think this might come from a combination of a Roman Catholic upbringing and weird, Italian superstitions?)    However, I’m fortunate to have a lot of other friends who are feeling the same way, and there’s reassurance in solidarity.  Additionally, articles like this one by Suzanne Moore are equally validating.

For most artists, art is a way to process grief.  Beyond that though, I also like to think that grief can be artistically productive.  Sometimes, though, it takes me a really long time to get to a place where I can channel loss into any sort of worthwhile art, so I wasn’t sure that I’d be able to write about David Bowie right away.  However, I was going through some writing prompts, and I got an idea for a new project that will allow me to really sit with Bowie’s work, and also pay homage to him through my art.  Over the next several months (or however long), I’ll be working on a series of David Bowie-inspired found poems.  I’ll be creating a found poem for each album (or as many as I can get through), using  lines sourced from said album’s song lyrics.  I chose Diamond Dogs as the first album, because it’s one of my favorites, and also because it was in my car cd player when David Bowie died.  As such, here’s the initial draft of the first poem in the project:

The Season of the Bitch 

a found poem sourced from David Bowie’s “Diamond Dogs” by Cara Losier Chanoine

Hope, boys, is a cheap thing–

it even smells like a street,

and changing isn’t free

Oh dress yourself, my urchin one!

I’m looking for the treason,

having so much fun with the poisonous people

If this trade is a curse, then I’ll bless you

and run

to a cellar like a church

til the sun drips blood on the seedy young knights.

 

Beware the savage lure.

Mannequins with kill appeal

wrote up scandals in other bars;

hunt you to the ground they will.

You’ve got your transmission

and a live wire

but they’ll split your pretty cranium

to wrangle some screams from the room,

while the lizards lay crying in the heat

 

Give me pulsars unreal,

and I’m in tears again.

You can’t get enough,

but enough ain’t the test.

Gentle hearts are counted down.

We feel that we are paper,

choking on you nightly,

trusting on the sons of our love.

Some brave Apollo,

he’ll build a better whirlpool.

And in death, the shutters lifted

 

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