Draft of the Week, #14.

I was lucky enough to spend two whole days with Rhett Iseman Trull, and what fun we had. We talked poetry, literary journals, played with the boys… and Lance made gumbo! Which we wolfed down, starved after our intersecting journeys.

First thing when we stepped out of the car after arriving from the airport, Rhett looked up and spied a bald eagle. Truly!  (We discovered later that he’s a regular—Lance always knows these things—called the “Bridge Eagle” around here, because he hovers around the bridge, fishing in the river. Which he can’t do right now, due to its current frozen state.) Sadly, that was the eagle’s first & only appearance to us—if he’s smart he lit off for better hunting grounds.

Rhett & Meg both read wonderfully; they were a great match-up, full of spark & personality, and we had a packed house. After such a lively poetry party, I had a hard time settling into sleep that night. Hooray for me, I had Rhett again the next day when the wacky weather played havoc with her travel plans. More poetry talk, more playing with the boys—Rhett’s a total wiz with kids, Vincent & Aidan adored her—until it was time to bring her back, however reluctantly, to the airport. I already miss her softly Southern lilt, and look forward to seeing her again sometime, I hope, in the not too distant future.


On another note, Carolee and Jill over at ReadWritePoem have named their poetry mini-challenge for the month, and it is “Fall in love with a poet”, cento-style! Check out their post here to read more on this form and what this challenge is all about.

Per the rules, I have altered very little: capitalizations, punctuation (though less than you might imagine), one verb tense, and I added one preposition. Not quite a pure cento, but pretty damn close.

Because I’m in the midst of a Lowell/Bishop kick, and because I can’t seem to follow a prompt without customizing it (sorry!), my plan is this: on day one (today) a cento from Lowell; day two (tomorrow, maybe Thursday), a cento from Bishop; and on the last day (Fri/Sat), a combined Lowell/Bishop cento. As each new poem goes up, the previous one will come down. Comments, both yays and nays, are always welcome.

(As an aside, does anyone know whether it’s okay to submit centos to journals for publication? I ask because the cento, even with due credit given, seems like it inhabits a sketchy magpie area. Any thoughts?)


5 responses to “Draft of the Week, #14.”

  1. M., I have the same murky/sketchy feelings about centos. I love to play with them, being a jigsaw puzzle fan at heart; however, they never feel like they are truly mine.

  2. i kind of agree with sandy. i like them for writing exercises, but i don’t consider them mine to publish. i don’t know about the official word, though. i think you can get from them all sorts of interesting material, but the centos themselves i think of as vessels only, a means to an end.

    i like the juxtaposition of “stand and live” with “snap and splinter”!

  3. Sandy, yes, they do have a puzzle quality to them, don’t they? I’m becoming addicted.

    Carolee, officially it looks like centos are fair game, fair use, from what I can tell — but it does make me wonder. Cento-poets of note: Homer, Vigil, Peter Gizzi, & John Ashbery. 🙂 None, however, as far as I’m aware, wrote single-poet centos. But as long as one only uses one line per poem, does that matter? I’m going to have to conduct further research.

  4. oh rats! did i miss your centos? did they disappear? can you send them to me to check out? ps: sarah j. sloat’s has a cento in her chapbook, in the voice of a minor saint, all lines by surrealist poets, even the title!

  5. Thanks for the reminder, Jill! I ordered her chapbook whenever it was that I read your review, along with another Tilt Press title, but they haven’t arrived yet — can’t wait!

    (Shhh: I’ll email you my centos. I really like the idea of the titles being poems lines too, but it feels important to me, esp b/c I’m using a single poet, or in the last cento, two, that the source material be clear & identified.)

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