Friday, March 18, 2016

Love You Forever

Love You Forever

don’t be nervous, baby says to frog
I have a knife

don’t you be nervous, frog says to baby
I, too, have a knife

no, you dropped it, baby says
I picked it up

I stole it back, frog says
ok, says baby, but when I’m a teenager, I dissect you

ok, says frog, but first I jump into a pond
and oh the sound of water the sound of water

Craig Conley posted the above amazing image on his Dansk Javlarna tumblr, always a repository of fascinating visual archivery.

This past week, I suggested to my novel writing class at Mohawk College that they use the image as a prompt for writing a short scene. Then that they go back and rewrite the scene, interleaving more words and details.

Last class we had been talking about editing and about paring back, about how much could be implied or inferred and how often what isn't said creates more power or intensity in writing. And indeed, how much one can leave out to create a dynamic field for the reader to imagine within.

So this class we tried the opposite. We thought of the basic structure of a text as the equivalent of a wireframe representation of a 3-D shape. In our former exercise, the reader might fill that in with surface detail, but in this class we spoke about the idea of the writer elaborating the surface. I think of it like the crenelations of the cerebral cortex. Each of those folds creates a world of detail, association, richness and complexity of thought and emotion.

I always try to write along with my students. And I even try to follow my own instructions. In this case, however, I came up with some text that I found interesting but that worked better as a poem. I then laved and chiselled until I came up with the above short poem / riff off Basho.


Eccentric Scholar said...

Delightful! And the final line of the poem -- fantastic!

gary barwin said...

Thanks, Craig!