Mouthy workshops: Debris

4 Dec

27th November 2015

When entering the room for this workshop the clumsy me almost slipped on the floor. Was it a banana peel? No, nothing of that sort: pictures and quotes were scattered on the floor. What were they there for? What were they representing?  What on earth could a picture of the aurora borealis and a toddler facing a red wall have in common? I was quite puzzled, but didn’t lost my faith. I trusted Debris and followed the instructions: ‘go around, look at everything and write about one picture/quote that grasp your attention- as soon as the inspiration is gone move on to the next significant one’.

That was a good way to get started:  creating something, put some ink on a blank page gives you great satisfaction. But still the question of what the connections were was hanging around. Then the revelation: light.  Looking around at all the little things in the room, light was everywhere. It was more evidently coming out from the light bulbs of one of the pictures and was emerging more subtly from a beautiful quote on dreaming, but light, oh- light was all around. And we got even more excited when we realised that LIGHT was gonna be the theme for our brand new Say Sum Thin 10! Understanding how broad and changing  and fragile the concept of light is opens so many creative possibilities for us! Yay!


Now, more technical stuff. It was an extremely full session, a lot to take in, but great great stuff. We talked about lineation, which is… ? Well, basically the way you break your lines in poetry. You could say that lineation is what differs poetry from prose. You could also argue that lineation makes the difference between an absolutely amazing poem and an average one. So, let’s try to understand lineation in practice. We looked at different way of breaking a poetry line, depending on different types of units:

Realisation Units

With realisation units, the line breaks just before (or after-it’s up to you!) there is a moment of realisation for the narrator of the poem. In general, every new one should bring a revelation of some sort, linking to the line just before that. Examples of poems we looked at: Michiko Dead by Jack Gilbert andAlways and Forever by Ocean Vuong.

Music Units

With music units, you listen to the sounds of single words and how the flow together. It might be useful to read the poem aloud to actually listen to how sentences sound like and how well they go together. Example for this technique: Thaumaturgy.

Sense Units

With sense units, you just go with the syntax of the phrase. Wherever its meanings breaks, you break your line of poetry. Example of this: Prelude collected in The BreakBeat Poets

So what now? Take a draft of your poetry and try to play with lineation, you’ll see that a different form can really make the difference!

We did that with our drafts on light and we creating some exciting new material. Just remember: do not see form as a constriction to your poetry, sometimes a good structure is all your poem needs to become a great one!




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