word clouds

4 November, 2009

Hmm, I’m not brilliant at this blogging thing, am I?

This week is officially reading week at UEA, but (hardworking poets that we are) we had a workshop this week anyway, and our week off from Poetics actually happened last week, so it’s business as usual. But I did take advantage of having last Friday off and had five days away up north, visiting friends in the wilds of Northumberland and then cousins in Newcastle. It was just the tonic: I got loads of writing done (though it was pretty frantic at times – sorry, Kerry!), quite a bit of reading, and generally just enjoyed being somewhere different and catching up with brilliant people. Highlights included Saturday’s walks in the woods and by the sea at Tynemouth, eating lots of home-made soup and sitting round the kitchen table setting the world to rights while drinking whisky…

Following the last time my work was critiqued, and the subsequent tutorial, I wanted to write something a bit longer and try to experiment somehow. It was a bit of a rush to get it finished but I really enjoyed stringing together three little childhood vignettes (not necessarily my own…) into one linked poem, all written in terza rima. Although I found the form really challenging – the rhymes interlock aba/bcb/cdc/ded etc, so that you have to find three rhymes for the last word of each line – I really enjoyed stretching out and writing something bigger than usual: I’m not generally brilliant at length. And the flow of terza rima really suits narrative, I think. I was happy with what I wrote, and then got some really helpful feedback in the workshop yesterday: most people seemed to like it, and highlighted the slightly clunky/overdone bits. A bit more tinkering and it’ll be a really nice piece of work, I think. And there may be plans afoot to collaborate with someone to do something musical with it…

This week in Poetics we’re talking about poetic diction, with cues from Dante, Wordsworth, Eliot and Mikhail Bakhtin. Part of our prep for the seminar is to come up with a list of words that we think are part of the contemporary poetic lexicon, which is a really interesting idea (and reminds me of one of the first books on writing poetry that I remember reading, Peter Sansom’s Writing Poems, which suggested that words like ‘shard’ and ‘lozenge’ are much over-used in contemporary writing). But I thought I’d cheat and get a computer to do some of the thinking for me, by putting in the text of all the most beautiful poems that the class came up with a few weeks ago into www.wordle.net and seeing what it looked like. Here’s the result:

poetic diction fixed

Clearly ‘like’ is the winner – poets being fans of simile, I guess – followed by ‘love’, ‘weeps’, ‘night’, ‘now’, ‘silence’ and so on. Here’s the word cloud of my own writing:

KV poetry word cloud

Again it seems I’m fond of simile, along with ‘earth’, ‘one’ and ‘weight’… It’s a lovely tool to use and there are lots of different ways of displaying the results; here’s my latest three-part sequence:

Three Children word cloud

Isn’t it gorgeous?…

As an aside: I’m probably not going to put much more of my poetry up on here, but if you’d like to read any of it, just leave me a comment or drop me an e-mail and I’ll send it on.

This post brought to you by redbush chai and Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty, with thanks to Kerry, Dave, Joe, Rachel, Ruth and Dave for the northern hospitality

3 Responses to “word clouds”

  1. Helen said

    love the word clouds!

  2. stellito said

    those sure are gorgeous. and neat. nice!

  3. […] it’s taken me longer than it really ought to do the tinkering that was required of the terza rima sequence I wrote at the end of October. I think I need a second opinion (or two) on some of the changes; […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: