IMPROMPTU #7: Simone Muench

Simone Muench

Muench - PortraitMy deep love of poetry arises, in part, out of poetry’s disposition for “call-and-response,” as I have always subscribed to the exhilaration of influence as opposed to “the anxiety of influence.”  Because of my interest in dialogic forms, I found my way to the cento form, as centos seem to be an organic extension of this “call-and-response” philosophy in that the recombinant nature of the cento allows for homage and salutation to influences while beginning the conversation anew. One of the lines from a poem in Wolf Centos, “I have lost my being in so many beings,” is a great summation of the whole cento approach and to my path to poetry in general.

Because of my interest in found material, after I finished Wolf Centos, I turned to a book-length series of multi-voiced sonnets written with San Francisco poet Dean Rader. We frankensteined these sonnets by cutting lines from other poet’s sonnets, and then grafting our own sonnets onto the originating skein of flesh. When we first decided that Frankenstein would be the conceptual spine of the book—the suturing together of other’s flesh/words with our own—we addressed how much should be appropriated and how much should be our own. We ended up being minimally cannibalistic, deciding only to use single lines from other people’s sonnets to employ as the first line. These first lines also serve as the title of each poem. Though our working manuscript title was Frankenstein Sonnets, the final title for the book is Suture, and it will be forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press in April 2017. As an extension of our collaborative process, Dean and I will also be giving a presentation on collaboration titled “The New DJ’s: Mixing and Remixing the Poem” at the 2016 AWP Conference in Los Angeles.

These collaborations, both with the dead and with the living, help me to continue to be excited about writing, as they allow for new modalities of thinking about, and writing, poetry. I especially appreciate the surprise detours that occur in the collaborative process that while challenging, are also great fun—the pleasure found in figuring out a difficult puzzle.

Prompt

The Brazilian poet Manuel Bandeira created the cento “Anthology” (see below) using lines from his own poems, instead of employing the traditional method of cento-construction (in which you build a poem entirely out of lines from other people’s poems). Following his example, write a cento that is a self-portrait, or anthology of your life, utilizing lines and fragments from your own work.

Or, alternatively, create a “self-portrait” cento using lines and fragments from

  1. other people’s poems (the traditional method), or
  2. song lyrics, or
  3. prose (fiction and/or nonfiction)

*To see the basic stipulations for writing a traditional cento, see http://myenchiridion.blogspot.com/2008_08_01_archive.html


Anthology
by Manuel Bandeira

Life
Is not worth the trouble and grief of being lived.
Bodies understand each other, but souls, no.
The only thing to do is to play an Argentine tango.
I’m going away to Pasárgada!
I am not happy here.
I want to forget it all:
— The grief of being a man . . .
This infinite and vain anxiety
To possess what possesses me.

I want to rest
Thinking humbly about life and women I loved . . .
About all the life that could have been and wasn’t.

I want to rest.
To die.
To die, body and soul.
Completely.
(Every morning the airport across the way gives me lessons
in departure.)

When the Undesired-of-all arrives,
She will find the field plowed, the house clean,
The table set,
With everything in its place.

Translated by Jean R. Longland

 


Simone Muench is the author of six full-length books including Lampblack & Ash (Sarabande, 2005), Orange Crush (Sarabande, 2010) and Wolf Centos (Sarabande, 2014). Her chapbook Trace received the Black River Award (Black Lawrence Press, 2014). She is a recipient of a 2013 NEA fellowship and The 2014 Meier Foundation for the Arts Achievement Award. She serves as faculty advisor for Jet Fuel Review, and has a forthcoming collaborative book of sonnets, written with Dean Rader, titled Suture (Black Lawrence Press, 2017).

50 Comments

  • Reply April 7, 2016

    Vinita Agrawal

    Here’s mine based on lines from my previous poems:
    https://vinitawords.wordpress.com/2016/04/07/looking-back/

  • Thank you for the prompt, Simone!
    I have used lines from my poems: https://spacedlaw.dreamwidth.org/152400.html

  • Reply April 7, 2016

    Misky

  • Reply April 7, 2016

    Mark Staniforth

    This is mine. It’s called “ZZ Top Trilogy”. It uses the lyrics from three separate ZZ Top albums. https://staniforthmark.wordpress.com/impromptu/

    • Reply April 7, 2016

      Amanda Earl

      i fucking love this. (sorry for the swear words, but that’s what the poem evokes. so great. glad to see someone else using song lyrics too :)

    • Reply April 7, 2016

      Stephanie Ellis

      Brought back some ’80s memories for me, loved it.

  • Reply April 7, 2016

    Amanda Earl

    • Reply April 7, 2016

      Mark Staniforth

      It’s amazing how so many song lyrics can fit together so seamlessly to make something so poetic. Also, showing the list of sources really helps change the dimension/context of the piece too, doesn’t it – sort of colours in the blank spaces between the lines, etc???

      • Reply April 7, 2016

        Amanda Earl

        thanks. yeah i like to include the sources. feels weird not to for me.

    • Reply April 7, 2016

      Stephanie Ellis

      Enjoying the poem whilst listening to your song list – Tom Waits, wonderful.

      • Reply April 8, 2016

        Amanda Earl

        ah, i’m glad you listened to the music, Stephanie. that’s another reason why i included it :) thanks.

  • Reply April 7, 2016

    Stephanie Ellis

    My poem, Wheels within Wheels is here http://stephellis.weebly.com/. Seven days in a row, not bad.

    • Reply April 7, 2016

      Mark Staniforth

      Amazing that this is from different poems – would never have guessed; reads like a new one!

      • Reply April 7, 2016

        Stephanie Ellis

        Thanks, some of the poems are on my website, a few published, others are in my ‘Dark Poems’ folder waiting to emerge into the light :)

    • Reply April 7, 2016

      Amanda Earl

      very Edgar Allen Poe. fun.

      • Reply April 7, 2016

        Stephanie Ellis

        Thank you. Just finished re-reading Poe’s work (although my original poems were written in the past few years), I do like his brand of darkness.

    • Reply April 7, 2016

      Vinita Agrawal

      The sentences flow seamlessly into each other. Enjoyed the read!

  • […] poem was written in response to a prompt posted by the Found Poetry Review, written by poet Simone Muench. The text is adapted entirely from footnotes in “Book I” […]

    • Reply April 7, 2016

      Amanda Earl

      love this, especially “A name probably invented/from a cloak; the scantest remains of language.” spellbinding, Doug.

    • Reply April 7, 2016

      Stephanie Ellis

      Wow. Terrific interweaving of sentences to build up an idea that language, words, are but a ‘cloak’. Who are we to know the truth?

  • Reply April 7, 2016

    Juliet Wilson

    here’s mine, made up of lines from some of my old poems, it was good to have an excuse to read through my old poems again

    http://foundcraftygreenart.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/a-cento-for-napowrimo.html

    • Reply April 7, 2016

      Stephanie Ellis

      This really read like a complete poem in its own right; beautifully crafted.

  • […] to Most Loved Pair of Shoes prompt” Kate Foley’s “Inner Buzzfeed prompt” Found Poetry’s “Self-Portrait Cento prompt” The City Quill’s “Haiku About Low Country Pluff Mud prompt” Dear Poet: Write […]

  • […] Susan Powers Bourne Sources: Impromptu | Simone Muench and poetry by Susan Powers Bourne Process: Pick and mix […]

  • […] prompt at Found Poetry Review comes from Simone Muench, who wrote a favourite of mine, a collection titled Wolf Centos. Please […]

  • Reply April 7, 2016

    Barbara Crary

    I enjoyed the opportunity to use my own poems for found poetry. Thanks.
    https://eyeofraven.wordpress.com/2016/04/07/my-cento-impromptu-7/

  • Reply April 7, 2016

    A. Garnett Weiss

    Prompt April 7 Simone Muensh
    “write a cento that is a self-portrait, or anthology of your life, utilizing lines and fragments from your own work.”

    You’re lost if you look, if you listen, if you follow

    Austere, without edges or colour,
    small-smiling, she looks down,

    watches, waits for a sign, any sign,
    listens for the story
    as cardinals sing a requiem among apple blossoms.
    Otherwise, she feels invisible.

    Her life lies on her lips, like a mystery,
    like the ice that coats trees when you thought it would rain.

    And I begin to understand
    the legacy of those cruel shards,
    what will shatter with her

    to be herself
    in a way both welcome and not.

    Cento Gloss: Each line in this ‘self-portrait” poem is taken unaltered from the following poems, written over the past decade+: “Panorama,” “Woman of ice, woman of glass,” The April Dead II,” “Fairy Tales,” “Nero fiddled while Rome burned,” “Huis clos,” “The days of billy boy bad,” (a line from wish furnished the title for the cento,) “Debut,” “Elegy for a Thrush,” “Post Partum,” “Vanishing point, “ “Where does it hurt”, “No regrets.”

    • Reply April 8, 2016

      Amanda Earl

      this one resonated for me. thanks for the poem. nicely done.

  • Reply April 7, 2016

    Linda Crosfield

    http://purplemountainpoems.blogspot.mx/2016/04/three-ways-of-looking-at-me-cento.html

    Another fun one. Now to go look at some of the ones posted here!

  • Reply April 7, 2016

    JM Scott

    I really liked this prompt, and I will use to recycle some of my older poetry. I used my poems, many of which are unpublished and some are found on my blog. Here is my poem http://candlesticksandcadavers.blogspot.com/2016/04/carved-stars-from-evangelism.html

    • Reply April 8, 2016

      Amanda Earl

      love this one. it had some great twists & turns. i’m always drawn to darkness in poetry, in life too, alas.

  • Reply April 7, 2016

    Carol A. Stephen

    Almost forgot to post today! https://quillfyre.wordpress.com/2016/04/07/napowrimo-2016-impromptu-7-cento-only-about-light/
    I used only lines from my poems written in 2016

    • Reply April 8, 2016

      Amanda Earl

      i LOVE this, Carol. such gorgeous lines. & the idea of the world being only light has fascinating possibilities for more poems. it captivated my imagination. well done.

  • Reply April 7, 2016

    Carol A. Stephen

    Sorry for double post. I guess they are coming over from the blog somehow.. queue the Twilight Zone theme. Or I posted without remembering, but then where is my name and email stuff?

  • Reply April 7, 2016

    S.E. Ingraham

    LIFE, INK

    The dark chorus sang me awake last night
    And the new moon, the size and shape of a slim cuticle
    One more example of certainty in an uncertain world
    Reminds me there is nothing to fear; go out
    Unless, oh unless, I stumble there …
    Where the dark is seething

    I dreamt you alive
    A heady mixture of the outdoors and wood smoke
    I relinquished ashes to a creek –
    Should Luna soar immense against bruised skies
    A thought so alien it makes my heart hurt
    The racket thrumming there is indeed inevitable
    You had been so long with me
    Throw a cape of sanity over my craziness now
    Me, whose most haunted self lingers like smoke

    Far from home, like blood bleeds
    To help me grieve –
    But, nothing that will make me slit my wrists –
    Blessed sanction
    Now a shivering, shameful sight
    It is illusory
    I seem so far away
    Hear me call from the silence
    With my heart just barely beating
    Now – a shuttered window thrown open
    Time can’t control the dreams
    My being here feels invasive.

    I loved this prompt! I am fond of centos, both reading and writing them, and this was fun for me. I decided to use only poems I’ve had published (which cut down on the material significantly) but allowed me to use the title I liked … The only changes I made were for tense, or occasionally, POV – to accommodate the poem. (I used lines or fragments from the following poems: Baby Girl M Gets Her Wings, Blues Over Bosnia, Bruised Skies, Carefully Crafted Camouflage, Dark Doppelganger Mine, Daughter’s Intuition, Do Not Imagine, Flora’s Fauna, For Baby Girl M, Gatsby: Not So Great Anymore, Hemingway’s Ghost, Last Night I Dreamt You, Love and Baking, nigh time, On a Paris Night, Place to Lay My Weary Grief, Should Luna Soar, Sins of the Father, Tree Deaths, When Trees Weep.)

    • Reply April 7, 2016

      Vinita Agrawal

      Loved My being here feels invasive…
      Beautiful poem!

    • Reply April 8, 2016

      Amanda Earl

      a strong poem, heartfelt. i can feel its pulse. well rendered.

      • Reply April 12, 2016

        S.E. Ingraham

        Thanks to you both Vinita, and Amanda … a bit late getting around to read comments; doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate them … I most certainly do!

  • Reply April 7, 2016

    m.a.scott

    This was fun. I sourced from Dorothy Parker Complete poems.

    https://mascottnapowrimo.wordpress.com

    Now I’ll go read everyone else’s.

    • Reply April 8, 2016

      Amanda Earl

      what a fun idea to use Ms. Parker’s poems. i love the sass & feistiness in this one. nicely done.

  • Reply April 11, 2016

    Richard Walker

  • Reply April 11, 2016

    Melissa Crockett Meske

    For prompt # 7 at Found Poetry Review, we were to write a cento that becomes a self-portrait, or anthology of our life, utilizing lines and fragments from our own poetic works. Here is my response to the prompt:

    Moving On

    The meadowlark’s song greets the sunrise
    As I look up toward the morning sky.
    It is a perpetual blue; the clouds, all silver lined.

    A glimmer of hope fills its boundaries.
    But soon the butterflies and roses will sleep,
    As life’s seasons quickly rush by.

    The fireflies and town lights now cast a faint glow
    Against the lonely darkness of night.
    Look closely, can you still see me, or have we already goodbye?

    –Melissa Crockett Meske, April 7, 2016

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