Go to your bookshelf. Starting at the very top, take down the 10th book from the left and turn to page 10.
When we speak of “translation” we usually refer to the process of turning a text that is written in one language into another language. But if we think about translation more broadly, we can imagine a diverse range of experimental processes that can spark new writing.
Sometimes erasure is an end in itself, but sometimes it’s a beginning, a starting point for collecting a Robert Smithson-like “Heap of Language” from which to construct poems. In that spirit, I’m providing a few prompts for collecting words.
It has been helpful to turn to this prompt, utilizing language from other poetry that I love, but altering it in a way to come up with alternative words and syntactical arrangements that I could never dream up on my own.
Use a text to draw a field of stars.
Evaluate the text with a particular eye for discovering, within it, that which you can love. Because the thing has not failed you. Rather, you have failed.
I am surrounded in the moment of research, I am already questioning what it will mean & how I can parse it out when I decide it is time to sit down and write.
I keep a document where I paste snippets and their sources that could be useful for found poems. Travel websites have always intrigued me with their language—visual, lush, and sometimes a bit dramatic and naive.
Collect found language from individuals who articulate how they feel, specifically, in their bodies…physical symptoms in the body (neck, head, stomach, feet, etc).
This exercise engages two things that I really love – a pseudo-scientific system of meaning and found archetypal language.