With winter approaching in the midwest, I am flooded with (besides immeasurable fear) memories of my last winter at Distant Castle. I developed a warm ritual of driving home from work, changing into thick, wooly garb, and sitting by the wood stove with a work of fiction. Annie would be knitting next to me, or Maia would be re-reading The Boy Who Fell in Love with the Moon. Fox would be reading Hemingway, and Eab something by Calvino. And when we weren’t all reading, I would bring down JJB’s vintage typewriter and make found poetry of the ongoing conversations in the room.
“Found conversation poetry” is one of the most spontaneously creative things to do. You participate by sitting and listening to people talk, and record whatever bits of conversation jump out, so as to create a poem that can stand independently from the conversation, but that captures something so original about that moment that it cannot be recreated. As the recorder, it matters that you have a certain kind of ear and style for how to put words and phrases together. Of course, a lot of what comes out is nonsense, but some of it is beautiful nonsense and, for the people involved, can bring back the entire conversation, and then some.
Below is a sample “found conversation poem” from a discussion about dates (the fruit), mugs we hoard in our rooms, and how to fix old instruments. You don’t need the background story to appreciate it, but the background story is stubbornly embedded in there from my end.
From Distant Castle, circa January 2012:
When I was a metal drill, under a yellow lamp,
This house was that way all day:
Very, very sweet squares of pollinated sex.
Let it get moldy, the colors are pretty.
Or get a new string, or, in the past,
I used a rubber band, and it was okay.