Monday, March 28, 2011

How to Write a Juxtaposition Poem

When I write poetry I like to write what I call juxtaposition poetry. It's a little like found poetry, except that you 'find' the raw materials from three different sources--- books, newspapers and the like. It's not only interesting of itself, but is something that can get your writerly juices going when you have writer's block.

Your three sources need to be very different from one another--- in 'nuclear sainthood profits' from my book Where the Opium Cactus Grows I used a Catholic prayer book, a book about nuclear war, and something by Karl Marx.

What you do with your sources is 'point and click'. Open each one at random and point, without looking, at the text. Copy out words or phrases from that point. Do this one after another until you have enough material for the poem at hand.

A pure juxtaposition poem just uses this material as you found it. But the secret to writing a good juxtaposition poem is to cheat like hell. Fudge a bit when you are pointing to select your source material, and add, subtract and re-arrange the material to help it make more sense. Or less sense, depending on your writerly goals.

I might point out that my 'nuclear sainthood profits' is not an average example of my juxtaposition poems, but one I feel is one of my best efforts in that direction. Most juxtaposition poems are choppier and don't have unified themes (whatever themes are, I try to avoid them). 'nuclear sainthood profits' is what happens with juxtaposition poetry when your Muse is in the building.

Here is the complete text of 'nuclear sainthood profits' from 'Where the Opium Cactus Grows'.

nuclear sainthood profits

wages after the labour, we beseech you, o limited nuclear war
a son is given to us, testing increasingly smaller warheads
if this limit is overshot, ground zero will accumulate debris
o mary conceived without sin, detonate a nuclear weapon
in the presence of mine enemies

behold, a virgin shall declare war on the soviet union and china
the market price of our pope, our bishop, and all true believers
includes mutual assured destruction when wages and prices are high
and large numbers of intercontinental ballistic missiles
now and at the hour of our death

This poem was written 21 years ago--- wow, a poem that's old enough to drink! At the time I wrote it I was NOT a Catholic, and I WAS a Marxist. But I never meant it as in any was anti-Catholic. It was more like a nuclear-war-drives-us-all-to-pray thing. And of course there was the 'blame-capitalism' reish going on as well. (Did you know that capitalism is responsible for the lack of life on Mars?)

The sharpness of this poem is a result of using sources with high emotional impact. You don't have to do that all the time--- I've used a local newspaper as a source many times, both for juxtaposition poetry as I've described it here, and for single-source found poetry.

These blander sources are essential for school teachers using juxtaposition poetry in the classroom, since in a school setting one WANTS a bland result. In homeschooling, a wider variety of sources are possible, whatever the homeschooling mother thinks is acceptable.

In my experience, some juxtaposition poems are finished after the first day's work, and others need more work. In addition, any type of poem benefits from being 'aged' in a file for a few months and then being given a bit of polishing if needed--- or even a complete re-write.

YOUR ASSIGNMENT: write a juxtaposition poem of your own. (If you post your poem on your blog, do post a link to it here in a comment.)

Related Post:
Blogging 'Where the Opium Cactus Grows'

Featured Books:
The Poetry Home Repair Manual: Practical Advice for Beginning Poets
Modern Korean Poetry
Where the Opium Cactus Grows

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Strange Blog Wins Second Award

Amanda Borenstadt of A Fortnight of Mustard has awarded The Lina Lamont Fan Club the Stylish Blogger Award. Maybe it's because of the fetching nightgown and ratty blanket I'm wearing right now?

Amanda claims I now must tell seven things about myself. But then again she's part of some weird cult that worships Playmobil people, so what does she know? But I'll do it anyway as I promised I'd finish this blog entry before I have breakfast and I'm hungry....

1. There is a two-day-old kitten in the room making weird kitten noises. His name is Other Joel 2. Last year his mama had 5 kittens, 4 survived and were named Joel, Other Joel, Girl Joel and Other Girl Joel. This year his mamma had 5 of which Other Joel 2 was the only survivor. It was a narrow thing since he chose to spend his first night on Earth making kitten-racket all night long.

2. I used to have Asperger's Syndrome but I gave it up for Lent.

3. I am addicted to Facebook games, chiefly FrontierVille, and, lately, PriestVille (which is kind of like Mafia Wars but with less whacking people. Too bad, I like whacking people.)

4. My role model and secret crush is the Crazy Cat Lady from the Simpsons. Like her, I also enjoy screaming gibberish and throwing cats at people. I'm throwing one at Barack Obama right now, for interrupting the soap operas 2 days in a row. (It's a really bad tempered black-and-white cat named Sarah Palin. Yes, my cats are all Republicans. One is even named after Dick Cheney. Cheney is the mother of 5 kittens, by the way.)

5. My third favorite character from Doctor Who is The Master (Harry Saxon version). My eighth favorite character from Star Trek (The Original Series) is Khan Noonian Singh. I'm writing a story about The Master and Khan. It's a romance.

6. Is it seven things yet? I lost count. I hate mathematics and counting and crap.

7. I'm older than dirt, but I still haven't decided what I want to be when I grow up. I'm thinking 'cowboy'.

Now I'm supposed to pass on the award to seven other bloggers. Which ones to pick? I'll just have to pick out the top seven from my Best Blogs Ever list. Or maybe I'll just throw darts at the wall--- or cats--- to pick seven at random.

1. Fabianspace, by author Karina Fabian
2. The CHASTITY Ring, which is about my favorite alternative lifestyle.
3. Operation Counterstrike, by Melvin 'Operation' Counterstrike. Hey, he's got style, it's just not a very civilized kind of style. His blog has gone all by-invitation-only, so someone please tell Mel he's won an award?
4. The Least Read Blog on the Web by John, a Lutheran Church Missouri Synod pastor.
5. Tea with Morbius , a Doctor Who blog by Celestial Fundy.
6. Expression Express by author Tracy Krauss
7. Biblical Evidence for Catholicism by apologist Dave Armstrong

And now, The Game. I'm not going to tell the award winners that they won just yet. That's YOUR job! So, go to the blogs on the list and drop the authors a comment that they won an award.

UPDATE: Celestial Fundy is the first award winner to have discovered his award, so as a prize, he gets one of the NEUTERED cats. The hard bit is sticking enough postage stamps on the cat to get it to the UK.

Operation Counterstrike (real name Theodore Shulman) will probably not be picking up his award as he's been arrested for making death threats. When he gets out he will probably have to give up his blog, or at least refrain from making death threats there, which means he's going to have to find a new theme for his blog. Please folks, pray for Theo!

And Other Joel 2 the kitten has passed away. His mamma has also had 1 other dead kitten for a total of 6. Luckily there are other kittens around here who will volunteer to dispose of her milk supply.

Related Post: Prolific Blogger Award goes to Crazy Cat Lady

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Read the Bible in a year--- and the Catechism

There are a lot of plans out there for reading the Bible in a year, and now that I am a Bible Christian instead of an Odin-worshipping Neopagan, I see the value of them. It's harder to get in the discipline of Bible-reading if you always are wondering which part of the Bible to be reading on any given day.

Today I found a Bible reading plan with something extra--- it's based on the complete Bible, not one that omits the books tossed out of the Bible by most Protestants after the Reformation. And it ALSO includes daily readings of the Catholic Catechism, so that you will also read THAT in a year (if you so choose.) Read the Bible and the Catechism in a Year

The daily reading includes a chapter from 3 different books of the Bible each day. It's in PDF format and if you print out the 2 pages onto the same sheet of paper and fold it in quarters, you have a little leaflet you can keep in your Bible.

Some people might assume that only those Bible Christians who are Catholic would like this scripture reading plan. But nowadays Protestants and Evangelicals are often less than fully convinced that Martin Luther was inerrantly inspired by the Holy Spirit when he treated the Deuterocanonical books (the 'Apocrypha') as not really Biblical, since Luther also wanted to kick the epistle of James out of the Bible altogether (the Deuterocanonicals were included in the Luther translation of the Bible, but grouped together between the Old and New Testaments).

Even Pastor Arnold Murray of the Shepherd's Chapel TV Bible study program is not against reading the Deuterocanonicals and says good things about them, though he doesn't preach on them as he does with other books of the Bible. So this Bible reading plan meets the needs of many Bible Christians who are Protestant/Evangelical as well as the Catholics.

I'm starting with the Bible reading plan today. Another nice thing about it is that it doesn't have the months and days listed so you can start any time, and if you skip a week, you can just keep going with where you left off--- and you can read ahead when you are energetic. I challenge anyone out there to do likewise.

Kindle Bible (KJV with Apocrypha) (best navigation with Direct Verse Jump)
Kindle Catholic Bible (D-R) (best navigation with Direct Verse Jump)

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