Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I Am Currently Jealous of Walt Whitman, Robert Desnos, and David K. Wheeler

Contingency Plans Gift

How hard could it be?

I was reading about a poetry technique called cataloging. It seemed simple enough. Until I tried it. The technique uses word-repetition to create a sense of praise (for the object, concept, or beloved). Or sometimes to create a sense of magic or prophetic voice.

How hard could it be to repeat words and make a good catalog poem?

Whitman did it in Song of Myself...

Have you reckon’d a thousand acres much? have you reckon’d the earth much?
Have you practis’d so long to learn to read?
Have you felt so proud to get at the meaning of poems?


Robert Desnos did it in The Voice of Robert Desnos...

the one I love is not listening
the one I love does not hear
the one I love does not answer


David K. Wheeler did it in On Restlessness...

There was never a time that I knew everything.
There wasn't a night I wanted you to lose sleep.
There are some words you can say with a blink.
There are nights I wake up curled on the floor.
There are appliances that refuse to operate.
There are solutions that don't have a question.


But in the end, I could not write a catalog poem. Not to my satisfaction. So I wrote this poem instead...

Poetry 101: Cataloging

All day I have been tapping out words, trying to catalog
my love for you. I've been sketching where the type would go
and the images— Bratz, Tonkas, a red truck that takes off
without pushing, after just a bit of pre-winding against a warm oak floor.
I've been shaking words into phrases that could go under little squares
on catalog pages; squares of silken ties, underwear, tube socks
and, surprisingly, Martha Stewart pillows (throw, in all the latest
catalog colors; this year it's yellow, which is far too bright
for how I feel... a catalog should never steal my love by pushing
the commercial sense of hue and shade on I-love-you; I tried those
too, you know— notebooks stamped I love you, with bubble hearts,
balloons, and ungodly purple butterflies). No matter how I listed,
squared, adjusted like a quintessential Sears, nothing seemed to finally do
what a catalog of broken lines should somehow, without measure, do.

This post is in honor of One Shot Wednesday.

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26 Comments:

Anonymous Patty Sherry said...

At the risk of sounding completely ignorant to technique to cataloging I am going to assume that you nailed it!? The poem was GREAT!
In any case, I loved your vibe, your words and thoughts move fast and I can feel your wit and humor as I read them. I really enjoyed your one shot

5:26 PM  
Blogger Claudia said...

this was absolutely beautiful
..I've been shaking words into phrases...you did - and they willingly let them shake and fell just onto the right spots...
you have a fantastic use of imagery here...wow..great one shot!

5:34 PM  
Blogger tuberider said...

I thought this was really fantastic. Well done. Sometimes you just got to go with what works.

5:36 PM  
Blogger Brian Miller said...

lovely prose...sometimes the words dont really matter as much as what is felt in the heart...as we inadequately try to frame them...nice one shot!

5:49 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

Interesting, worthwhile work. Keep experimenting. :)

5:50 PM  
Blogger n. davis rosback said...

looks like there is more than one way to write a catalog poem

:-)

6:48 PM  
Blogger Dulce said...

if you have the skill to write this way about such one as my fave (Whitman)...
you also deserve a recognition... no need to be jealous but learn through them... as i try
:)

7:04 PM  
Blogger Madame Rubies said...

I love it.

And now I want to try writing a catalog poem.

7:42 PM  
Blogger Maureen said...

The comment I left earlier went into the ether. I came back to read Nancy's.

I love your phrase "a catalog of broken lines" and, yes, I think it captures what's behind that wonderful Kalem quote Nancy offers tonight.

9:37 PM  
Blogger dustus said...

Makes me think about poetry itself and how wonderful it can be to learn from and to creatively diverge from. Liked your poem and the set up too. Nice One Shot!

9:45 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

Yeah. Well, yeah. ha. I'm trying to think of a poem myself. Or at least along the lines of what you write here.

10:29 PM  
Anonymous sarah said...

Really good job!

1:23 AM  
Blogger Shashi said...

Very well catalogued and I have learned a new thing today...
I enjoyed your effort.. thanks for sharing Barkat...

ॐ नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya
Twitter: @VerseEveryDay
Blog: http://shadowdancingwithmind.blogspot.com

3:58 AM  
Blogger Jerry said...

bahhhh. Who needs cataloging when you can write like that. That one "Sears" my cemented paradigm. Thanks.

8:25 AM  
Blogger Fireblossom said...

Um...I'm a mail lady and I just delivered those Heifer International catalogs, lol. I was just trying to inspire people, honest. ;-)

I often write catloging poems, but i never knew they style had a name. Now i do.

I especially like the Wheeler, who I hadn't known about, and the Whitman, a long time favorite of mine. :-)

11:20 AM  
Blogger Sharon Cohen said...

I loved your entire poem but I have to admit that one phrase resounded more strongly than the rest:

a catalog should never steal my love by pushing
the commercial sense of hue and shade on I-love-you.

I am moved by your words and eager to read more. Great One-Shot!

11:40 AM  
Blogger PattiKen said...

Your poem is beautiful. Who knew that "cataloging" was an official style with a name? I do this often (though never very well, I fear). My One-Shot next week will be over-the-top with it.

I'm savoring Inside Out right now, and I would tell you that you needn't be jealous of anyone.

12:15 PM  
Anonymous HisFireFly said...

Catalog a catalog
word by word
no rhyme this time
your play complete
astounds me, as always...

4:02 PM  
Anonymous Victoria said...

What a treat to read your post. I so enjoy learning and trying new forms. There's something very appealing about this one. Enjoyed it a lot. And thanks for your visit to my blog.

7:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I never heard of cataloging. But now, of course, I have to learn.

11:08 PM  
Anonymous Sandra Heska King said...

Ack! That's the second time today I've done this. I'm not anonymous. I'm me.

11:09 PM  
Blogger Mona said...

Expression is always lacking, since between the creation and translation on paper, too much gets lost!

Great write! :)

2:24 AM  
Anonymous Arts Web Show said...

This is awesome.
Some very clever writing indeed

8:52 PM  
Blogger Joelle said...

I'm afraid to even try. Certain I'd do more harm than good in attempting to catalog my love. It seems so pure and magical and mystical. Don't want to limit it in my fumbling words. But yours is good, L.L. The trying is good. Whitman and Desnos and Wheeler tried too. Never quite enough. But that's alright.

1:20 PM  
Blogger Pete Marshall said...

thanks for this...i so enjoyed the read...to me it was completely new and original...and thats what i love about one shot which gives us the chance to discover

4:40 PM  
OpenID shrinkingthecamel.com said...

Interesting technique, another of which I had no clue. Lovely to watch you take these ideas and turn out your own. I learn something here.

6:10 AM  

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