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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Comments on No Friendly Sky Anymore

The poem “No Friendly Sky Anymore” is egoless and deterministic designed by using the Acrostic reading-through procedure. This poem was completed on October 16, 2010 in the comfort of my modest home at Husbands Terrace, St. James South, Barbados.

Why do I describe this poem as egoless?

Egoless poetry is just what it is…not egocentric. Poets from the western tradition use objects as a mode to express their intellectual sentiments using a variety of poetic devices. Looking at a field of growing okras, the poet would never say, for example “okras are in bloom ready to be harvested” or in some other simple way, but will use imagery sensors to plant images in the mind’s eye of readers by probably saying “okras are pregnant from the electrifying rays of the sun, the pattering rain gleefully massaging their feet in sodden shoes with the whispering sounds of the wind in their thanksgiving dance”. So, instead of calling a spade a spade, poets from the western tradition make use of various poetic devices such as similes, metaphors, personification and symbolism for their embellishment fix. These various poetic techniques allow these poets to inject themselves within the composition whether directly or through the “voice” or persona assigned to articulate the muse.

Egoless poetry thrives on the concept of Zen that espouses the idea that objects should be seen in their true nature and not be distorted for one’s own self-centered gratification. This overarching use of romanticism in poetry is what propels egotistic gratification. Egoless poetry would have none of that thus avoiding the use of “self” or “I” in any form or fashion in its chance or deterministic creations. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that poetry embellishment is a bad idea. On the contrary, I cannot imagine myself feasting on poetry without its seasoning and garnishes. Do you? As a side-dish, to balance the diet, egoless poetry rises to the occasion by not putting the poet as the centre of gravity but rather as a by-stander.

Egoless poetry is to be found in Japanese forms of poetry such as the Haiku and Senyru and in the poetry of the American poet, performance artist, composer and playwright Jackson Mac Low.

Why Jackson Mac Low described his poetry as “Deterministic”?

Mac Low never referred to his poetry as “chance” poetry although other readers of his poetry did. The Dada movement of Western Europe the early and middle years of the last century in such writers as Louis Aragon and Tristan Tzara, just to mention a couple Dadaists described their creations as “chance” poetry because they used chance operations to create their poetry. It is a method of generating poetry independent of the poet’s will. A “chance operation” can be almost anything like throwing the dice, bingo or using the computer. Most poems created by chance operations use some form of “parent text” as their source. The source can be a clipping from the newspaper, magazine, poem or whatever. The purpose behind this approach is to play against the poet’s intentions and ego, while creating unusual syntax and images. The resulting poems allow the reader to take part in producing meaning from the work.

Even though Jackson Mac Low’s egoless poetry relied on a Parent Text to populate the Seed Text with his two methods, namely the Diastic reading-through procedure and the Acrostic reading-through procedure and his knowledge of the workings of computer programs that gave much inspiration he never described his creations as Chance poetry although Chance poetry uses similar platforms. He insistently referred to his brand of poetry as “deterministic” because of his use of “matched asymmetries”.

What is there to uncover about Jackson Mac Low’s brand of poetry?

With a clear understanding of computer-based applications and the knack for modifying those to suit his person Mac Low created two approaches to writing his deterministic poetry swimming in the egoless sea. A cursory analysis of his poetic creations suggests that he was not seeking answers to aleatoric and egoless forms of poetry. He was more concerned with experimenting with the various forms of computerized application programs to find out what would be the outcome when a particular algorithm was introduced into poetry. His focus was to empirically invent techniques of artistic production meeting certain criteria. The outcome of this experiment in poetry is found in two methods he created: Acrostic reading-through non-intentional text-selection procedures known as the “Acrostic method” and the Diastic reading-through non-intentional text-selection procedures known as “Diastic poetry”. These two methods rely on a Source Text and a Seed Text. He employed these poetry generation techniques from April 1960 until January 1963. No doubt with the widespread use of computers in this 21st century his poetic technique has the potential of reaching even greater heights in modernistic poetry.

Here is how Mac Low described his Acrostic Method of deterministic poetry. The writer reads through a Source Text and finds successively words, phrases, sentence fragments, sentences, and or other linguistic units that have the letters of the Seed Text as their initial letters. I used this technique to read the poem “No Friendly Sky Anymore”. The entire poem “No Friendly Sky Anymore” in Exhibit 1(b) serves as the Source Text and its title as the Seed Text. The new poem that resulted is shown in the Exhibit 1(a). Seeds taken from the Source Text are italicized as shown in Exhibit 1(b)

Exhibit 1(a)
(SEED TEXT)

No Friendly Sky Anymore

Now our
flashbacks race in every nook do linger Yankees
stand kin yes
America nightmare you mourn our race elsewhere

Now our  (No)
flashbacks race in every nook do linger Yankees (Friendly)
stand kin yes (Sky)
America nightmare you mourn our race elsewhere (Anymore)


Here are some guidelines on how to create your first Acrostic poem using the Acrostic reading-through procedure developed by Jackson Mac Low.
Select a Source Text from any type of reading matter you prefer.  Let's suppose you selected this as your Source Text:
The 2010 Copiapó mining accident occurred on 5 August 2010, when part of the San José copper-gold mine near Copiapó, Chile collapsed, leaving 33 men trapped deep below ground. The miners survived underground for a record 68 to 69 days. All 33 were rescued and brought to the surface on 13 October 2010, with the first miner emerging from the Fénix 2 rescue capsule at 00:10 CLDT and the last at 21:55 CLDT. After the last trapped miner was winched to the surface, the rescue workers held up a sign stating "Misión cumplida Chile" (English: Mission accomplished Chile) to the estimated more than 1 billion people watching the rescue on live television around the world.

The San José Mine is about 45 kilometres (28 mi) north of Copiapó, in northern Chile. The miners were trapped at approximately 700 meters (2,300 ft) deep and about 5 kilometres (3 mi) from the mine entrance. The mine had a history of instability that had led to previous accidents, including one death.
The retrieval of the first miner, Florencio Ávalos, began on Tuesday, 12 October at 23:55 CLDT, with the rescue capsule reaching the surface 16 minutes later. By 21:55 CLDT on 13 October, all 33 miners had been rescued, almost all in good medical condition, and expected to recover fully. Two miners were suffering from silicosis, one of whom also had pneumonia, and others were suffering from dental infections and corneal problems. Three of the rescued miners had immediate surgery under general anaesthetic for dental problems.

The total cost of the rescue operation was estimated between US$10–20 million, a third covered by private donations with the rest coming from state-owned mining corporation Codelco and the government itself.

Read it through from beginning to the end to get an understanding of what is written in the Source Text. Select a theme or title from what you have just read for your Seed Text. Let’s suppose you selected “Copiapo Miners” as the theme.

Read the Source Text again starting from the beginning and find successively words, phrases, sentence fragments, sentences, and/or other linguistic units that have the letters of the Seed Text as their initial letters. The number of letters in the title of your Seed Text should give you an indication of the number of verses the Seed Text poem. For example “Copiapo Miners” poem would have thirteen verses as follows:

Copiapo Miners

C.................................
o.................................
p......................................
i.........................................
a...............................................
p...................................................
o............................
M............................................
i.............................................................
n.......................................
e..........................................
r................................................
s.......................................................

with the lines of verses varying in length normally.
Read your completed Acrostic poem aloud, check for errors and correct any errors found.

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Natural disasters whenever and wherever they occur impact on all of our lives. The Good Book says we are our brothers and sisters keepers lead by the Holy Spirit. Hence, we must do our part when disaster shows its ugly face. Any assistance, great or small, given from generous and loving hearts has equal weight. I'm passing on this information I received that Barbadians can go to First Caribbean Bank to donate to the Disaster Relief Fund for Haiti. The banking information is shown below:

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