Apr '13 27
Day 27. A suggestion here prompted me to plug my name into this anagram generator. I set a limit of a minimum word size of three. It generated 1,633 words and I eliminated repeating words using this tool. Then I randomised the list 14 times (the number of letters in my name).

I rescued poem number 27 from the pool of words.

Enter, not for its life

Soften sire,

Felons loiter,
felines trifle
jot notes
sort linen.

Foes riot, flee.
Lone son stolen.
Stonier inner filter
tenor tones.

Lifers sneer.

Sinner risen,
feels soft,
frees son.

elfin seer siren
silent for eons!

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '13 20
I usually rescue a poem from prose texts (read here about my rescue process).

Today, however, I thought I'd rescue a poem from two poems, each called 'The Fish'. One is by Marianne Moore and the other is by Elizabeth Bishop.

I read Elizabeth Bishop's poem once, quite some time ago, and I still haven't read Marianne Moore's poem, so I am not yet familiar with the content of either poem.

The surprise with the poem I rescued is that it's not about fish at all.

I love surprises, and I love this rescue process.


terrible things
in an ancient, sun-cracked face
age burns like hatchet sun
its swiftness, weapon-like:
                marks not mine are mine.
orange crimped feathers
white lilies
big spread rainbow of shiny glass
are rusted tinfoil.
                marks not mine are mine.
crisp yellowed stare
from my eyes like medals –
not medals,
like barnacles,
like sea stars;
my grim wisdom, grunting,
lip down, sullen,
shafts of fight
abuse my aching jaw,
rainbow strokes the turquoise water
rainbow shapes speckled jelly-fish
rainbow keeps fish of youth submerged.
                marks not mine are mine.
everything is here:
my strips of tarnished skin
are rust-brown evidence
of a shiny edifice
tremendous heavier flesh
attached to tiny little bones.

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '13 9
Last night I went to the 10th anniversary celebration of Poets' Corner, a wonderful poetry group that hosts guest poets every month (Alison Flett and I were guest readers at the most recent one in January, which was the evening before friend and poet John Pfitzner passed away). Yesterday's celebrations included a tribute to John. Sean Gilbert delivered a moving opening speech about poetry and prayer, and how poetry, like prayer, is a 'reaching out'.

I was thinking more about this, and about how some prayers are poetry in and of themselves, if you slough away the heavy chains of association with man's religious prejudices.

Raised a Roman Catholic, my childhood was sprinkled with learning and 'reciting' prayers. I wondered what poem I could rescue from a selection of prayers that I know so well. I chose seven: the 'Our Father', the 'Creed', the 'St Patrick's Breastplate', a 'Guardian Angel' prayer, the 'Salve Regina', Psalm 23 ('The Lord is my Shepherd') and the 'Act of Contrition'. To be consistent I took the text from here.

you are the banished

Almighty guide descended
eyes of earth toward evil resolve.
In the darkest valley of temptation
a quiet stranger

Spirit me to forgiveness
beside rose waters,
beneath the light of grace,
behind gracious power;
restore me to hope
above buried heaven
near a hallowed presence
through days of mercy;
lead me to believe
that the worthy shall lead,
that a god shall comfort,
that tears for a mother and father
are tears of an angel,
that to walk above waters
is communion with earth
and that when life and light are done
I shall come
in from exile.

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '13 8

I just read today that yesterday, 7 April, was William Wordsworth's birthday – he was born in 1770. He figured heavily in my introduction to poetry: my mother and I used to recite together 'Lucy Gray' and 'Daffodils' when I was about six or seven years old.

The two poems are very different: 'Lucy Gray' tells the story of a young child who goes missing in a snowstorm, while 'Daffodils' recounts the joy experienced by the poet when he comes across 'a host of golden daffodils' when he was out for a walk.

So I decided to shake up the text of these two poems and see what poem was waiting to be rescued. Here's the result, which is definitely influenced by how well I know the subject of both poems.

Happy birthday, William. Thank you for your poetry. I hope you're not turning in your grave at this.

She is all, and night is just

Sound never looks this lonesome.
She wandered, small,
overlooked, scarcely there.
She was inward, broken,
dancing vacant
on solitary wild.
Night was tossing
the wretched daffodils.
She danced, wanton,
chanced a glance
at lantern moon
shine sprightly golden
reached downwards beside
on milky snow.
She gazed wide at lonely heaven
and through sparkling
stars tracked waves of twinkle.
She danced, pensive,
yonder mother mountain
a steep, stormy rise homeward.
She danced, wept,
her footmarks lost,
never to be seen.

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '13 4
Today's poem had an interesting birth. Earlier in the day I was reading 'The Ubuweb: Anthology of Conceptual Writing' . The article discusses the idea that conceptual poetry turns its back on traditional 'romantic' notions of poetry being a vehicle for emotional expression and instead, embraces procedure and logical process.

Later I was thinking about ideas for today's poem. I decided to go through my 'rescued' poem process (read more about that here) using the Ubuweb article about conceptual writing as my source text.

Here's the rather interesting result: a conceptual/constrained piece about itself.

art crossings

poetry experiments
misapplied language
the presented form
extraordinary writing abstractions,
which the story words,
string legible pleasures and
bleed verbal probabilities,
reengineering écriture possibilities;
a collection of cannot language
a recall to chance concept
vibrate structures
into sculpture:
the idea of
truth itself
in rigorous procedure
and derived into presence

Posted by Jennifer Liston