Sunday, November 16, 2008


(Dedicated to Dodie Bellamy for her essay, "Digging Through Kathy Acker's Stuff"). Read this interview with Dodie Bellamy for an introduction to the exercise. Choose an article of clothing that holds special meaning to you, especially if it's something someone you love gave to you. Wear it all day the day before the exercise, infusing the article of clothing with your body by living your day EXACTLY how you want to live. Give the clothes a full day of LIVING with your body, eating, drinking, loving how you want to. The next day take the clothes out into the world with you wherever you go with your notebook. Drape them on a tree, or bench, keep them near you like a doppelganger, like an old friend, like someone you need to know better. Take notes about how you're feeling about the clothes being in your life. What are all of these feelings? Was it given to you by someone you love? If so, when did you last see them? What were you talking about? Take notes, lots of notes. Place the clothes in a bag, keep the bag near you. Meditate on the bag. Then have just a portion of the clothes poke out of the bag. What can you see about them like this that you hadn't noticed before? Study the textures, and, what is it made from? Leather, wool, silk, what is it? Imagine the animals or plants it was made from. Can you see these animals and plants in the world before they were your clothes? Trains, boats, trucks, imagine these forms of transportation bringing the raw materials into the hands or machines that made these clothes you love. Take note, lots of notes. Wrap the clothes on you in a way you don't usually wear them. Take notes while they are on you. Wrap them around your head, and take many more notes. Hold them in your hands, close your eyes, imagine where they will go when you die. Imagine them in the world without you. Take notes, and if anyone interrupts you SHOO THEM AWAY, politely if you want, but get rid of them, YOU'RE BUSY! Now take all of your notes, and using THE FILTERS "FRICTION" and "HALLUCINATION" get to work shaping your poem.

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Friday, October 31, 2008

#23 DEATH as DIRT as POETRY is

Go to your local graveyard, spend some time searching for a spot to sit. Find a spot where no one will pester you, you're busy, you're here to write poetry, not to be pestered with small talk! When you have found your spot sit down on the ground. Take time to look closely at ALL OBJECTS at your feet, in the trees, etc. Find three objects, one of them on the ground, or at least touching the ground: your feet, a grave marker, tree trunk or roots, etc. The other two off the ground in a tree, a building, but make them things which are stationary so you can stay focused on them. Draw a triangle between these three objects. Focus hard on the contents of your triangle, keeping in mind that the ground object you have chosen connects to the dead. Imagine your triangle in different forms of light, darkness, weather, and seasons. Imagine someone you love inside the triangle dying. Imagine yourself inside it dying. Gather notes in this process, take notes, as many notes as you can about how you feel and what you feel. Then PAUSE from these notes to focus again on your triangle, THEN write QUICKLY AND WITHOUT THINKING for as much time as you can manage. Often it's these spontaneous notes which dislodge important information for us. DO NOT HESITATE to write the most brutal things that come to mind, HESITATE at nothing for that matter. Take some deep breaths and think about death by murder, war, cancer, suicide, accidents, knives, fire, drowning, crushing, decapitation, torture, plagues, animal attacks, dehydration, guns, stones, tanks, bombs, genocide, strokes, explosions, electrocutions, guillotine, firing squads, parasites, suffocation, flash floods, tornadoes, earthquakes, cyanide, poison, capital punishment, falling, stampedes, strangulation, freezing, baseball bats, overdose, plane crashes, fist fights, choking, etc., imagine every possible form of death. Take notes on your feelings for death at this point, DO NOT HESITATE. Now, TAKE ALL YOUR NOTES, and using THE FILTERS "QUICKEN" and "EMBLEM" shape your poem.

Sunday, September 7, 2008


(This exercise was created when Hurricane Hanna arrived in Philadelphia in the form of a tropical storm. This is dedicated to the hundreds of people and animals who lost their lives in Haiti and elsewhere when Hanna had been a full-blown hurricane. My joy and pleasure for the remnants of Hanna's warm, windblown rains refuses to ignore the danger and suffering it brought days before arriving in my city.)

Sit outside under shelter of a doorway, or pavilion, or umbrella on a park bench, but SOMEWHERE outside where you can easily touch, smell, taste, FEEL the storm. Lean your face into the weather, face pointed UP into the storm, stay there for a bit with eyes closed while water fills the wells of your eyes. Come back into the shelter properly baptized in the beauty of pure elements and be quiet and still for a few minutes. Take some preliminary notes about your surroundings. Try not to engage with others who might run to your shelter for cover. If they insist on talking MOVE somewhere else, you are a poet with a storm to digest, this isn't time for small talk! You are not running from the storm, you are opening to it, you are IN IT! Stick a bare arm or foot into the storm, let your skin take in a meditative measure of wind and rain. If you are someone who RAN from storms in the past take time to examine the joys of the experience. Remind yourself you are a human being who is 80% water SO WHAT'S THE HARM OF A FEW DROPS ON THE OUTSIDE ON YOUR SKIN AND HAIR!? Right? YES! Pause, hold your breath for a count of 4, then write with FURY and without thinking, just let it FLOW OUT OF YOU, write, write, WRITE! Set an empty cup in the storm, hold a slice of bread in the storm. Then put a little salt and pepper on your storm-soaked bread, maybe some oregano and garlic. With deliberate SLOOOOOOOOOWNESS chew your storm bread and drink the storm captured in your cup. Slowly. So slowly please. With a slowness which is foreign to you. THINK the whole slow time of chewing and drinking how this water has been in a cycle for MILLIONS OF YEARS, falling to Earth, being drunk, quenching horses, lizards, dinosaurs, humans. They pissed, they died, their water evaporated and gathered again into clouds to pour down STORM DOWN into rivers, puddles, aqueducts and ancient cupped hands. Humans who have LOVED who are long dead, humans who thieved, raped, murdered, were musicians, generous, playful, disappointed, fearful, each of them dying in their own way, their water coming to your bread, to your lips, to your stomach, to feed your sinew, your brain, your living, beautiful day. Take your notes POET, IT IS YOUR DAY to be totally aware, completely awake! Now, take ALL YOUR NOTES, and using THE FILTERS "PILGRIM" and "STAINED" shape your poem.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Take account of how many times you're not saying or doing EXACTLY what you want to say or do in a day. How many times do you use a tone in your voice which is not honest? How many times are you polite when you want TO SCREAM? How much compromise does your day comprise? Take CLOSE account of this. DON'T LIE ABOUT IT EITHER! This is for you, no one else will know SO BE TOTALLY HONEST! What is your body like when you're not being who you are? How does it feel? Are your hands doing something in particular each time? Your feet? Your groin, your stomach, how does your body react when you are not REALLY you? At the end of the day take notes about this. These notes will be the formal outline for this exercise. After that, EVERY DAY FOR THE NEXT 7 days you will pay attention to the SIGNS OF DISHONESTY in your voice and your body, and whenever you are not who you REALLY WANT TO BE at any moment in the day. Each time you are being polite to your boss, or the baby-sitter, or don't say FUCK because there's a child in the room, EACH TIME you are not you, CLENCH YOUR TOES! CLENCH THEM! Every time, CLENCH THEM! At the end of the day are your toes tired of this? Are they feeling BETTER maybe? Soak your feet in hot salt water and WRITE WRITE WRITE as quickly as you can, EACH NIGHT for 7 nights after a day of TOE CLENCHING DISHONESTY soak them in hot salt water and WRITE with the pace only a FURIOUS YOU would know how to do! OPEN YOUR EYES wider than they're used to being open and WRITE, WRITE WITHOUT BLINKING if you can. WRITE! At the end of 7 days take a long time staring at your feet, your toes, look at them. Stick them in your face if you can, right up to your face and look at them. Take a magnifying glass and look at your feet. For 7 days your toes have been taking the brunt of your dishonest actions. How does that look? Take notes. How does that feel? Take many notes. STICK YOUR TOES IN YOUR MOUTH if you can. How does that taste? Now, take ALL YOUR NOTES, and using THE FILTERS "ARREST" and "BASE" shape your poem.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


(Rosemary is a foundation herb used in many different magic spells.) Pick a destination outside. Be OUT in the world for this one. Bring FRESH rosemary with you (if you can only find dried rosemary, please soak it in water overnight). While walking to your destination rub the leaves between your fingers, then sniff your fingers, then rub a leaf into the center of your forehead. Take notes whenever thoughts come to you. When you arrive, sit down if you can. It's best to sit, and be out of the way of traffic where no one will bother you, you're a poet with poems in mind, this is not time for socializing. After you have spent some time relaxing at your destination then sniff deeply on the rosemary and imagine you are the opposite sex. Imagine a different body, a different societal gender conditioning. Get inside this Other. Look at the traffic, the buildings, or trees, or whatever's around you, and imagine how angles and speed, how color, and textures might be different to you. Choose a name for your Other, take a deep sniff of rosemary, then SAY the name of your Other out loud. How would your writing be different? Sniff the herbs on your fingers often while thinking and writing from your Other. Write carefully and slowly, then QUICKLY, slow, QUICK, then write very very slowly, take 30 seconds to write a single word, THEN QUICKLY, the SPEED, the slow, is everything. These notes might also contain something you feel is NOT discussed, or NOT discussed enough concerning gender. When you have taken all the notes you feel you can take, let the notes rest for a few days, MAYBE EVEN a week. At the end of that time take ALL THE NOTES, sit down with them in a quiet place and make a poem from them with THE FILTERS "INCUBATE" and "HAZARD" or ("HAZARDOUS").

Monday, June 30, 2008

#19 your garbage SPEAKS!

(for Ish Klein who sees art in garbage)

SAVE YOUR garbage for a week, every wrapper, every box, carton, save it all. Rinse it out if you must, but it's better if you don't, better to SMELL it. At the end of the week go through each item, slowly, carefully, do it in a closed room, don't let anyone bother you. Don't answer the door or the phone, IGNORE THEM, you're busy looking at garbage to build a poem! Take some notes, write down interesting facts from labels, or the size of things, how they look, how you remember them before discarding them. Imagine where this packaging came from, factories, and before that fields and trucks and many many hands picking them, grinding them, printing with color and black ink. Take notes when thinking about these things. SMELL them one at a time with eyes closed, eyes opened, eyes closed again SMELLING, deeply SMELLING. Notes, take your notes. NOW GET NAKED AND GET IN THE BATHTUB, and go under water, blow bubbles. Go under again and stay under a little longer. DO THIS several more times then COME UP, dry your hands on the side of the tub and grab your notes, and grab your pen and paper and WRITE about drowning, pull your notes together to write a poem about drowning and you're about to die drowning BUT THIS IS what you want to share at the end. GO BACK UNDER the water again, then COME UP AGAIN and WRITE!

Saturday, May 31, 2008


Don't be afraid this one is too difficult, just do it! Wolf recordings are available from different nature recording companies. OR, have your friends get together and howlHOWL around a recorder. People sound like wolves when we want to. Take your wolf recordings howlingHOWLING out onto the streets. If you live in a city BUSY CITY it's especially disturbing. Turn the volume up a bit to hear howls at lunch carts and subway stairs. Turn the volume down a bit to hear background howls, the everyday howls. Bring something to chew. Lunge at doorways. Don't worry, no one will bother you, you're a poet, just say you're a poet writing a poem, they will understand. Have some coffee beans to smell once in awhile so you can break your nose open. Get your nose OPEN. Then SNIFF everything, SNIFF yourself! Did you bathe before leaving? Well if so SNIFF others SNIFF your pencil SNIFF your books SNIFF metal SNIFF grass! Sit where you can drift out of view to watch everyone in the howling frame. How do you fit into the world you see? How you do not fit into the world? Wolves worry about such things all the time, making certain to understand where they fit. Do you eat meat? You don't need to eat meat, but if you do, eat your meat. I'm a vegetarian wolf myself, but eat my carrots like they're legs of soft, jerking, gentle fawn! NOW WRITE, and WRITE for as long as you can, an automatic response to your time with the HOWLINGhowling ON THE streets, POET, you are a POET, a howling one! Now, take a DEEP SNIFF of coffee grounds, again, and loosen yourself, and listen again to the howlingHOWLING while you read through the writing, and find what is true, and remove it, and live with it, add to it, remove more if need be. Listen to the howlingHOWLING again, in the dark, let it lead you through the words by flashlight or candle! BE DRAMATIC, don't be afraid to BE DRAMATIC, poet, writing, poet writing!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

#17 a collaborative exercise created by Kendall Grady, CAConrad, and Monica McClure

Open a closet or bureau or drawer or glove compartment or hidden shoe box. Pick out an old item of clothing. Maybe it looks like another decade. Maybe it's a childhood relic. At least one year must have passed since you have seriously engaged this item. Now wear it. Accommodate this item on your body even if you can no longer wear it as intended due to changes in the item's condition, your physical self, the weather, etc. Now grate one large carrot. Put the carrot in a new, clean nylon stocking and tie it around your head with the bulge of carrots against your upper lip where you can smell the carrots, and drops of their juice trickle into your mouth. Sit down in the sunlight, facing the sun with your eyes closed for fifteen minutes. Meditate on something you used to eat as a child. Think of the first thing you ever wanted to eat. Was it dirt, Styrofoam, play dough? Eat it slowly and in small doses. What is it like to believe that what you are eating is food? Pretend it is nourishment. Think about the material making changes in your body. What is it like to chew something into something else? What is that thing you eat when there is nothing else around? A tortilla and peanut butter? Now eat that thing and think about making something of nothing. While eating, move the carrot bulge to your forehead. The old item of clothing you found should now be tied around the arm you use to write with. Keep chewing while you write your poem!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


(This is primarily for poets living outside tropical regions) LOCK THE DOOR AND UNPLUG THE PHONE, KILL all outside interference, you must NOT be interrupted because YOU are about to build and ignite your BANANA WORD MACHINE, and once it gets started it doesn't like to stop, for anyone, for any reason! You need: a banana, and pictures of: parrots, boa constrictors, leopards, jaguars, banana trees, men and women carrying bananas to trucks for export, OR anything else which has to do with banana production, or wildlife or anything else native to where bananas grow. No music. No noise. If there is noise use ear plugs. Strip down naked and sit on the floor with your pictures, your banana, pen and paper. Smell the unpeeled banana while looking at each of the pictures you have chosen to build your BANANA WORD MACHINE. When you settle on your favorite picture slowly open the banana, staring at the picture. Imagine this picture ALIVE at the moment it was taken and BE THERE, slowly opening the banana skin, smelling, taking small tastes. When you have absorbed the picture thoroughly, and feel sufficiently transported mentally, get comfortable on your back, then slowly rub banana into your skin wherever you most want to, but make certain to coat your solar plexus, throat, and THOROUGHLY coat your forehead. Feet, genitals, ass, and wherever else you most want to of course since this is YOUR OWN PERSONAL BANANA WORD MACHINE! Slowly chew a little of the banana, and put the skin on your chest as you stretch out on your back with your eyes closed and FILL YOUR BODY with the LOWEST possible HUM you can muster! SUSTAIN THAT HUM! Then relax in your quiet, hum again, keeping eyes closed. Slowly chew a little more, smell, then just relax in your BRAND NEW BANANA WORD MACHINE! When you feel quiet, and your muscles quite limber, slowly massage the banana into your forehead, slowly, softly at first, then deeper and FASTER in a circular, clock-wise motion. THEN SUDDENLY SIT UP inside your BANANA WORD MACHINE and write write write write write WRITE! HUM and massage your forehead again to keep your BANANA WORD MACHINE fully in gear and energized! Write, hum, massage, relax, repeat, repeat, keep going, keep going, you, are, writing, in, your BANANA WORD MACHINE! You will write some of the BEST poems of your life TODAY! YOUR BANANA WORD MACHINE! LOVE YOUR BANANA WORD MACHINE! Yellow splendor!

Thursday, February 28, 2008


If you are Right Handed write two words on your right arm that you will say to someone today (if you are Left Handed write on your left arm). Write these words where no one can see them. Your energy leaves your body through this arm, you point with it, you throw with it, this is the arm you use when the world receives from you. Keep these two words in mind all day, touch the words on your arm from time to time when no one is looking. Ask people questions using the two words. Don't ask them about the words, but use the words in your question. Remember what they answer and write it down later. Alone at night place the sheet of paper with answers from people where you can clearly read it. If you are Right Handed your left hand is where energy enters. (Or right if you are Left Handed). Hold your left hand overhead while you write on another sheet of paper. Rotate the hand overhead, and flex its muscles, open and close it, move it, constantly move it, and with the other hand WRITE! WRITE! WRITE! Pause from writing (but keep the other hand flexing and moving overhead) to read the answers from people again, then write, let whatever needs to come COME! This is going to be beautiful. Relax with it, see what you've made. See what poem or poems wait inside the writing. PLUCK THEM OUT!

Saturday, January 19, 2008


Wear a shirt with a breast pocket over your heart. Put a dark chocolate candy bar in the pocket. Walk to a tree, study the bark, and branches, give it a proper hello. Press your left palm against the trunk for a little while, looking at the world around you. You are radar. Put your back against the tree, resting your body into its strength. With your right hand find your pulse in your left wrist. Keep a steady thought on the pulse and imagine your blood moving up to your heart, pumping beneath the chocolate bar in your breast pocket. Your blood, it's your blood, your heart, and they're saying hello to the chocolate bar, Hello Chocolate Bar, because they are saying Hello to themselves ahead of time. After a little while remove the chocolate bar from your pocket, break it in half. Drop one half at the foot of the tree, and let the other half slowly dissolve in your mouth. Don't be shy about the world of chocolate and all it wants of you once it's inside you. Your pen and paper GET YOUR PEN AND PAPER your blood your chocolate blood is ready! Write your poem RIGHT NOW!