Accidental Poetry: “Accidentally yours . . . ?”


(This a warmed over re-post from lsuecomp.blogspot back in August ’06 when the hurricanes of ’05 were fresh on our memories.   Thank God for archives when the fount of invention is stymied by pressures beyond the writer’s control!)

Hopefully, one of the most reliable indicators of poetic impulse or instinct in a writer is the capacity to demonstrate not only a facility with words, but also a fascination with words–a “head full of logos,” as I once composed in a verse celebrating the creative impulse of language (that Greek word “logos” is so much richer than our boring English “word!”) .

Writers with this “head full of logos” show a propensity to erupt in spontaneous wordplay, even as they trudge through drafts of otherwise functional and/or transactional writing tasks– a memo, an email message, a note to co-workers, even a shopping list. This spontaeous wordplay often produces what I term accidental poetry: usually brief poetic expressions resulting from the writer’s recursive experimentation with revision and word possibilities.

For me, the process works this way: As I labor at a writing task, I occasionalyl get caught up in fanciful experiments with word sounds, phrasal rhythms, word combinations that produce alliteration or assonance, some clever way of turning a phrase, or even a combination of these strategies. This distraction begins as a sub-conscious and unintentional loss of focus as some interesting possibility leads me off task, but as I wake to find myself wandering off in that direction, instead of redirecting myself to the task at hand, I succumb to the impulse and “play!” Here’s an example of an “accidental” verse that spilled out of my keyboard yesterday as I posted a blog comment:

And what’s our cheer
this year

down here
along the Coast?
Death to hurricanes!
Of course, it’s not great poetry. But nor is it serious poetry– It’s just “accidental poetry,” a casual invention that’s sometimes cute and almost always fun, something to tuck away in a journal or a corner of the portfolio for future reference and further elaboration–or maybe never. But one way or the other, here I am with this “head full of logos!”

Any other “accidental” poets out there? I’d like to compare notes.

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