Sunday, February 3, 2008

A Dream of Birds

I may have mentioned that my latest publication is a poetry collaboration with my friend Seymour Mayne and artist/award-winning film animator Sharon Katz. It's a collection of word sonnets called "A Dream of Birds." Seymour and I exchanged these short poems (a word sonnet is fourteen lines long with one word set for each line, hence fourteen words,) and Sharon designed the book with images (really markings) suggestive of birds in flight that actually move in real time as a flip book.

Now poet and editor Maria Scala has had something nice to say about the book on her blog:
The first time I read a selection from this book for an audience it was at a Cote St. Luc book club, one of the rare occasions where the subject was poetry. The ladies were, how shall I say, underwhelmed. Mystified, may be a better description. They didn't see (or rather, hear) these pieces as poems. "Too short," they said. It's hard to blame them. Fourteen words does go by fast. The hyper-short form is challenging and approaches the very edge of what may or may not be considered poetry. Short poems can be highly evocative, as in haiku. But how short can a poem be before it ceases being a poem at all? Is there a minimum length required? Maybe it's like the difference between a song and a ditty. A few bars does not a song make. Are these poems or rather poetic moments? Some in the book, admittedly, are more like koans than poems. I had these sorts of thoughts (misgivings?) while writing A Dream of Birds. The word sonnets themselves were challenging (and addictive) to write for exactly this reason. I think where the collection may overcome some of these issues is in the exchange. Each poem essentially responds to the one before it, one voice playing off the next, so it is like a dialogue in poetry which, I think, brings the enterprise some weight.

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