"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ouija Poetry at 1 a.m.

Do the following lines make any sense to you?

Fjew jr;lsa/

Dkjr s


Xndn f

Enfkkdan ek;anc oaeh g4 ajf

D aekvne

Asken cog

And wog,


Can you see words, or hints of words? Maybe only wee suggestions of words?

Don't feel bad. I couldn't either. I thought I saw "flew" in the first line, but other than that, I was stumped. For the past week, while my online writer cohorts were madly dashing off poems based on that utter nonsense above, my internal planchette remained stuck on stupid.

Why, you might wonder, did I use the word "planchette?" Because the above is a writing exercise called "Ouija Poetry." The idea is to type randomly, hitting the space bar and hard return occasionally, just as if you were typing real, readable lines. Instead, you create a chaos of letters and lines--and then search for a hidden message within the chaos.

As I mentioned, I was stuck on stupid. "Flew" was the only word I detected. I went online late last night and notified my friends that I couldn't participate in this exercise posted by Ann Linquist, a writing instructor. There's a link to her site over there under "Come visit my friends..."

Anyway, I posted my message of defeat and went through the routine to turn off the computer. Just as I hit the final button, I glanced down at the sheet of paper next to my keyboard--the one with those nonsensical lines printed out for my perusal.

The word "Xanadu" jumped out at me. I took the paper to bed with me. Then I got up, turned the computer on and Googled "Xanadu." That led me to a fascinating story of how Samuel Taylor Coleridge came to write Kubla Khan.

I turned off the computer and went back to bed with my printed research. A half hour later, I turned on the computer and posted this at Ann's site:

Flew the lines from out his pen
Of darkness dreamt in profound sleep,
A vision fueled by opium
Of Xanadu
And Kubla Khan,
Just fragments penned—not for print.

And when he opened up his eyes:
“In a vision I once saw:
It was an Abyssinian maid
And on her dulcimer she played.”

‘Mid Apocalyptic omens of war.
In his creating he’s asked away,
Inspiration lost—
Or perchance stolen
By an Abyssinian maid.

Thus the work remains undone,
Only a dream, he tells us now.
But be he master to his work
Or slave to all he writes?

Well, it isn't meant to be great poetry. It's an exercise in searching for hidden themes, messages, and words--hence the Ouija tag. But, when something happens at 1 a.m., it's rather suspect, isn't it?

You really have to read about the creation of Kubla Khan to understand what I wrote.

1 comment:

  1. I like this whether I understand it or not. I stayed too close to the gibberish Ann typed which resulted in disconnection and nonsense in my interpretation.