Monday, September 17, 2012

Poetry substitution, permutation, music, Beethoven, history, memory, and trees.


I've been working with permutations and word substitutions in texts. I've done this in music composition for years. For example, erasing the tonic (key note) and/or the dominant and then substituting another note. Or leaving the space. (I guess that's a substitution of space -- rhythmic space. Here's an example (accompanying my then Grade 7 daughter's visual poetry video animation) where I took a late Beethoven piano sonata and deleted important notes in the harmony (eg. the tonic.) Then I set the whole thing in non-standard tuning (a kind of substitution.) The result destabilized both the rhythm and the harmony.



Below are two poems which do a similar thing. The second I freely wrote, playing with ideas of permutation. The first substitutes "trees" for "history" -- which, I guess, is the opposite of what history has done in 'real life' outside the poem.

1.

sweet to speak
memory and trees
when we have words

sweet to speak
memory and trees
when we have no words

we speaks memory and trees
memory and trees
is sweet when have we

we a memory and trees
of words
we memory we trees

memory and trees
words we
sweet when we have

we have no words
sweet to speak
memory and trees



2.

sweet to speak
memory and history
when we have words

sweet to speak
memory and history
when we have no words

we speaks memory and history
memory and history
is sweet when have we

we a memory a history
of words
we memory we history

memory and history
words we
sweet when we have

we have no words
memory and history
sweet to speak

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