Blackout Poems: Name Recognition

(I am using the New York Times interactive Blackout Poetry site for a few days to create Blackout poems. They give you some articles to choose from. You create poems of no more than 15 words. The interactive does the blacking out around your chosen words. It’s pretty cool. You can also read other poems built around the same articles. Give it a try.)

Blackout Poetry1

Process Note: This poem is created from an article about model Kate Upton and her attempt to move into acting. It’s also about what beauty is in the age of viral images. In this poem, I tried to keep my attention on the recognition of name in pop culture, and the transient nature of likes and thumbs-ups and more. That “no more than a cameo” is a good line. I also liked the floating off the page concept.

Peace (in what’s unsaid),
Kevin

Slice of Life: Poetry and Image Collecting

I’ve been using primary source images from the Library of Congress to write poetry for the past few days and it’s been pretty interesting to get inspired by history. I gathered them all up here in a Storify as a way to curate the poems and images and reflection points.

Peace (in poems),
Kevin

Library of Congress Poetry: Radio Signals

(I’m exploring poetry through images by tapping into the extensive collection of the Library of Congress on Flickr. There are some amazing images shared with the public and more coming every month or two, it seems. What can inspire you? Be sure to cite where you got the image from. Use Alan Levine’s Flickr Attribution tool and your life is a breeze.)


flickr photo shared by The Library of Congress with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons)

Imagine the noise
if you stood
inside this antenna
and opened your ears
to the world.

Close your eyes
and listen, if you can,
and be patient, as your mind
puts frequencies into
patterns.

Somewhere, out there,
in some far-off place,
someone else is listening, too,
and all you need to do is

tune in.

Process Note: What I noticed first with this image is the wide open space behind the man and his radio device. Also, the large box antenna pulls in radio signals. I tried to move the poem beyond the man and his radio apparatus … to more of the idea of all of us, slowing down and listening to the world.

Peace (in all frequencies),
Kevin

 

Library of Congress Poetry: Seventh Inning Stretch

(I’m exploring poetry through images by tapping into the extensive collection of the Library of Congress on Flickr. There are some amazing images shared with the public and more coming every month or two, it seems. What can inspire you? Be sure to cite where you got the image from. Use Alan Levine’s Flickr Attribution tool and your life is a breeze.)


flickr photo shared by The Library of Congress with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons)

Well, the game got called
on account of

the rain

and I’m still up next to bat,
so I’m impatient for

the pitch

So I don’t mind the mud
nor the empty seats nor

the rain

All I care about is
how far I’m gonna smack

that pitch

and win the game!

Process Note: There are lots of pretty cool baseball shots in the archives, but mostly of team shots or close-up head-shots. This one caught my attention. I was thinking of these men, waiting around. I don’t see rain but it made sense to have them stuck in a rain delay, seventh inning. That fellow leaning against the pole is thinking of playing baseball. I am sure of it. I wove in some inadvertent rhyme and decided to pull out the last line of each stanza as a way to show the rain and the pitch as important elements. Funny how you can do that with poetry.

Peace (in outfield),
Kevin

Library of Congress Poetry: A Pair of Patient Pants

(I’m exploring poetry through images by tapping into the extensive collection of the Library of Congress on Flickr. There are some amazing images shared with the public and more coming every month or two, it seems. What can inspire you? Be sure to cite where you got the image from. Use Alan Levine’s Flickr Attribution tool and your life is a breeze.)


flickr photo shared by The Library of Congress with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons)

I’m still here:
a pair of pants left behind
while y’all went swimmin’

I’m hangin’ on this here hook,
listenin’ for the splashin’
of the bodies in the brook

Ain’t I surprised
no one took me
with them shoes and socks and shirts
when you weren’t lookin’?

No more surprised
than your mammy no doubt was
when you arrived home,
nearly naked with no memories
of where yer pants could have gone

and me, just here waitin’ —
just watchin’ through the days
for someone to take notice:
I’m a pair of patient pants.

Process Note: I saw this image of clothes on a hook and laughed, imagining a group of kids gone swimming, leaving their clothes behind.

Peace (it’s patient),
Kevin

Library of Congress Poetry: Black Knight, Preaching

(I’m exploring poetry through images by tapping into the extensive collection of the Library of Congress on Flickr. There are some amazing images shared with the public and more coming every month or two, it seems. What can inspire you? Be sure to cite where you got the image from. Use Alan Levine’s Flickr Attribution tool and your life is a breeze.)


flickr photo shared by The Library of Congress with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons)

The game is bigger
than us,
here on the grass
with me pretending to be black
and you, choosing white,

and somewhere in the distance
we can hear the dream
unfolding as thousands of people

listen intently to his voice,
echoing out into decades to come,
not even sure of the moment they are in

and you call out “check” as if to win
as I defend my position
with a black knight, preaching.

Process Note: There was something about this scene, of two young men playing a game of chess during the 1963 March on Washington that struck me as an intriguing. Of course, there is all sorts of symbolism here — the game, the colors of the pieces, etc. But it was the simple moment of two people engaged in an intellectual pursuit that caught my eye. I wanted to frame the poem beyond race, but I couldn’t.

Peace (in pieces),
Kevin

 

Library of Congress Poetry: The Great Warrior Sees

(I’m exploring poetry through images by tapping into the extensive collection of theLibrary of Congress on Flickr. There are some amazing images shared with the public and more coming every month or two, it seems. What can inspire you? Be sure to cite where you got the image from. Use Alan Levine’s Flickr Attribution tool and your life is a breeze.)


flickr photo shared by The Library of Congress with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons)

The Great Warrior
knows better
than to trust the One who seems
smaller than
the eye

The Great Warrior
sees beyond
the scale of days behind him,
falling into
days ahead

The Great Warrior
understands this,
fears this, too –this coming change
pushing into
his World

The Great Warrior
contemplates You –
consumes You in his mind —
swallows you
whole.

Blinks.

Process Note: This is an image of the eye of the American Indian leader, Geronimo, with the reflection of the photographer in Geronimo’s pupil. It’s an odd, evocative image, with deep (sad) symbolism, right? I had this idea of the shift of the world underway as the photo is being snapped. Even as the American tribes knew terrible change was afoot, they could do little to stop it.

Peace (to all),
Kevin

Library of Congress Poetry: This Won’t Hurt a Bit

(I’m exploring poetry through images by tapping into the extensive collection of theLibrary of Congress on Flickr. There are some amazing images shared with the public and more coming every month or two, it seems. What can inspire you? Be sure to cite where you got the image from. Use Alan Levine’s Flickr Attribution tool and your life is a breeze.)


flickr photo shared by The Library of Congress with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons)

This will only take a moment
so sit quiet
and still
and let me rummage
through your head

This map of You
is defined not by
longitude and latitude,
nor by crude compass
but by the crevasses
of your cranium

Who you are becomes
what you may be so that
where you are going is
when things take shape although
why this is so,

I don’t rightly know.

Thanks for letting me look
at what you cannot see
yourself, but can only feel with
fingertips as you brush your hair
each morning.

The real You is hidden
from view, beyond the contours
of your face, your eyes,
your public mirror.

Close your eyes;
This will only take
a moment.

Process Note: The Library of Congress has this whole collection on Flickr of Mystery Photos (odd images) and it challenges visitors to make guesses. This one is a classic. The woman seems so happy! But look at that contraption being lowered on her head! Don’t worry. She is not getting electrocuted. It is a phrenology machine, apparently, and her life is about to be analyzed through the bumps on her scalp. Go figure.

Peace (it’s rather bumpy),
Kevin

Library of Congress Poetry: The Notes In the Air

(I’m exploring poetry through images by tapping into the extensive collection of the Library of Congress on Flickr. There are some amazing images shared with the public and more coming every month or two, it seems. What can inspire you? Be sure to cite where you got the image from. Use Alan Levine’s Flickr Attribution tool and your life is a breeze.)


flickr photo shared by The Library of Congress with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons)

I glance your hand
on the edge
of my peripheral vision

A palm open with fingers outstretched,
as if to collect the gift of
the notes of my solo

But this muted melody is mine
and mine alone;
I’m not sharing

this song with you tonight.

Process Note: This image in the Jazz Collection struck me for the two things nearly outside of the frame. The hand coming in from the top left and the face of Cab Calloway in the lower edge. I ended up ignoring Calloway, and yet, look at this eyes watching Jonah Jones playing his trumpet. I was more intrigued by the hand. It is outstretched in joy? I suspect it must be one of those “Oh Glory, Give Us More” moments of a listener (white?) and yet I wanted Jones to remain inside his trumpet, ignoring the world. The world can wait. The notes are still in the air. They are his.

Peace (in jazz),
Kevin