Saturday, January 23, 2010

Imagism & Camels

It's January 23rd, the kickoff date for the Year of Gutsiness. This next year will hopefully be full of new and exciting things that I can look back on and say, "Yes! Gutsiness abounds!"

But as soon as this blog was all constructed and the "I" cursor was blinking in a new post, waiting for my exciting new gutsy endeavors, I suddenly blanked. It's a lazy Saturday in January...what sort of thing could I possibly do today?

Thinking quickly, I decided to learn a new word. So I reached for my impressive collection of various sorts of dictionaries and grabbed the first one I saw: The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms, a book I haven't looked at since high school AP English class.

Opening to a random page and putting my finger on a random word, this is what I got:

imagism: A school of poetry that flourished in North America and England, and especially in the United States, at the beginning of the twentieth century. Imagists rejected the sentimentalism of late nineteenth-century verse in favor of poetry that relied on concrete imagery. Ezra Pound originally led the movement, which drew upon T.H. Hulme's poetic theory, but Amy Lowell soon became its most famous proponent; "Amygism" was first used by the displaced Pound to refer derogatorily to the movement (213). <---cite your source!

Hmmm. Interesting. Granted, I'm not much of a poetry person (being a prose writer myself) and so I had no idea what imagism was, let alone that it even existed.

However, I realized that simply learning a new word wasn't nearly gutsy enough. There had to be some sort of return on the investment, right? Right.

So I decided that the only logical solution would be to write an imagist poem. Couldn't be that hard, right? Right.

I took a walk up to the library to look up some famous imagists, including Ezra Pound and Amy Lowell.

Brief sidestory: While at the library I spotted a woman that I shared the airport shuttle with when I was leaving for Ireland! Small world, right? I was too shy to say hello and ask if she remembered me and how she's been, but then I realized that I ought to be brave for the sake of the blog. However, as soon as I bucked up the courage she disappeared. Lesson learned: follow your instinct immediately, otherwise the opportunity might vanish.

Anyway, grabbed a book of Ezra Pound poems and headed home to construct a poem displaying imagism.

According to Bedford's, imagist poems should:

1)regularly use everyday speech, but avoid cliches;
2) create new rhythms;
3) address any subject matter the poet desired; and
4) depict its subject through precise, clear images.

Bearing this in mind, here is my imagist poem, entitled "The Camel".

look to the camel
who blushes

you know it is she

that she is fine

in the caravan

Model: Sally the Plastic Camel, who sits on my desk and was the inspiration for the poem. Every picture I took of her was blurry.

Well, hope you liked it! My first imagist poem. Who knows how imagist it really is...but that's okay. It's all about taking leaps, right? Right.

Thanks for joining me on Day One of the Year of Gutsiness! Who knows what'll happen tomorrow?

-The GLS


Murfin, Ross, and Supriya M Ray. The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2003.

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