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Unformatted text preview: Work In Progress Lower Standards June 26, 2001 Master-Minded by rpg 1 Lower Standards Richard P. Gabriel On March 18, 2000 I began writing a poem a day. Today is June 19, 2001, and I have 428 poems written—I skip a day or two every month. What is it like to do this? How much does William Stafford’s advice to “lower standards” help? How does one revise in this regimen? What techniques can one use to gather material to “write about”? What does it cost to work this way? What can you gain once you’ve made the work less precious or special? Is any of it publishable? Quality “versus” quantity? This little class will start with some observations I’ve made and continue with a discussion. Resistances will surely come up. And fear. History When I entered Warren Wilson, I had written about 40 poems up to that point not counting about 20 juvenilia (followed by 25 years of nothing). When I graduated, I had written about another 40 or 50 more, including the parts of a long poem. Therefore, the 47 poems in my final manuscript repre- sent quite a large proportion of my total output, and just about all the poems I did at WW. My method of working was to write in the morning and struggle to get a first draft over the length of a morning—about 3 hours. I would succeed at this about once a week when things were going well. And then I would revise like crazy. My goal was to turn every possible poem into the best thing I could. I did this with every poem and with the help of the workshops and advisors. At my graduation reading I was tempted to introduce these advisors as co-authors, but was steered away from that by Pete Turchi. After I graduated, I went into a slump! Over the next 6 months I wrote 8 poems, and then for the next 20 months, it got even worse: Noth- ing. I tried just writing lines, but nothing happened. I couldn’t revise, either. Then a former friend threatened my life, and 5 days later I started writing a poem a day. In the Fall of the previous year, I had read “Morning Poems,” by Robert Bly—under the advice of a Wally friend, John Gribble. So I had been looking into the question of marathon writing. Fifty days into my daily regimen I wrote a review of “The Daily Mirror,” by David Lehman for Crania (which folded immediately after receiving my review). I can’t recall when I read the Lehman book, but it might have been before I started in my own poem-a-day regimen. Now it’s about 15 months later and I’m still at it. I’m up to number 434, and if anything I am more regular in the last 6 months than I was in the first 12. Why This Might be Important I am not a typical poet in a particular sense: I desired to write early in my life and was not bad at it, but due to circumstances I became a fairly hardcore (computer) scientist, was heavily trained in Work In Progress Lower Standards June 26, 2001 Master-Minded by rpg 2 mathematics, and in short, had developed my so-called “left brain” to an extreme. Being a bit obser-mathematics, and in short, had developed my so-called “left brain” to an extreme....
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This note was uploaded on 03/01/2011 for the course 1MD 001 taught by Professor Erikborälv during the Spring '09 term at Uppsala.
- Spring '09