Just a note today to say that I received the wisdoms of the universes in a single string of letters, which is "A record of the 2013 International Pwoermd Writing Month." Edited and designed by mIEKAL aND, this little handful of a book is a collection of all the pwoermds of that InterNaPwoWriMo that mIEKAL and I could collect from the pwoermdists working that year. It is also a dense collection of what the pwoermd can do, as evidenced by the work of 31 people.
The book opens with a little essay by me on pwoermds and InterNaPwoWriMo--an essay that opens with a sentence by Ralph Waldo Emerson, a sentence that seems to be about pwoermds, and also a sentence that the poet Donato Mancini independently wrote himself this week. It also includes short micro-essays on five pwoermds in the anthology.
Buy your copy soon, while copies are still available on print on demand (follow the link):
The edges of a word are not necessarily clear. Its extent is uncertain. When does is stop meaning one thing and turn into other meanings? When does its meaning divide? Where does one word end and the next word begin? In the classical age, writing was all of a mass, a single string of letters, not so much as a sliver of space between words, as if the spoken language had no pauses between words--which it often does not. Children, whose minds are an articulated grey clay, listen enough by the sounds of words that the boundaries of them become impressed in their minds, but it is a long process. If a word is written where does it end? We assume at its last letter, but some words come to us in two strings of letters. I always spell the word "no one" as "no-one" to make this point: it is a single word.
So the French word for "snow" ("neige") written with its g nonupled and imbricated as a vertical line through the word is still a single word, one silently or not so silently extended by its reaching northward and southward from the horizontal plane of the word.
All of it snowing, dark and black, stark, in a medium blue sky.
The two-storey g's are sifting, shifting, out of the sky and through the word "neige" itself. The nonuplicated g's can be perceived as entirely silent (nothing but a visualization of snow) or as the continuation of the soft hum of a French j, the sound of snowfall, almost silent, but not, and an enduring sound.
It all works. A little beauty. The simple mise-en-page. The sound that lingers in our heads. Something that reminds us that even April sometimes snows gently upon us.
A word is greater than a thought because it carries within itself the possibility of innumerable thoughts. A pwoermd is greater than a mere word because it carries within itself the possibility of innumerable words.
I have, for a while, seen Tim Canny as the light-verse pwoermdist, even though many now create pwoermds that are about the joke more than, say, the word.
But Tim remains, also, a man of the word, if not his, at least God's. So when I read this recent pwoermd of his, I don't read it, merely, as a play on so many words that I almost don't know what's going on. I also see it as a little treatise on morality.
(I think this knowing I am wrong to do this, because the pwoermd has to exist alone, by itself, and so it also needs to stand by itself. But I also know that pwoermds exist in the context of human space and primarily in the context of linguistic and textual space. So context matters. But it can also deceive.)
The other day, I came across another pwoermd of Tim's, one that most clearly let me see his political and moral side. (I don't see politics and morality as necessary comminglers, but I seen in Tim's political views, which are conservative--instead of the common liberal and anarchist views of most pwoermdists--as being significantly intertwined, and meaningfully so. And I accept him fully into the family of pwoermdists and humans regardless of these views or other political and moral views he might have. All thought is acceptable to me. Sometimes, too few people, all across the political spectrum, are too interested in thought control. I don't want to hold the power of human thought down.) The pwoermd I could not understand at first, because I had the pronunciation wrong in my head, but then it came to me:
is pronouced LIE-bel-RULL. It's an awful word in the mouth, terrible to pronounce, but that wrenching required of the mouth to make this word mean in the ear is what makes it work. The pwoermd is a political screed against liberals, accusing their spoken viewpoints as libelous, and the pwoermd works by making a joke of liberals by twisting pronunciation until it doesn't sound right. Once I could hear the pwoermd, I immediately laughed out loud. And that's good.
I'm not one who needs to believe in the point of a joke to find it funny. I just like humor. I laugh honestly (not pretendingly) at many jokes about myself for this reason. And the joke works here, so the pwoermd works.
So it's within the context of this pwoermd that I read this wonderful work by Tim:
Again, the word plays with sound to wrench the mouth into uncomfortable shapes. So, again, I hear the voice of censure here, something simple about illicit sex. I think it works that way, too. But I get much more. This is not a light-verse work. I don't hear it as funny at all. I see this as morally and literarily rich. At one level, all that's happening here in terms of coinage is that the words "twist" and "wrist" are twisted together, and in doing so the i's that center each are melded together into a y. That y is one of the miracles in this little poem. Where does it come from? Why is it necessary. It is a furca, a piece of a branch fallen to the ground, two legs holding up the column of a human being. And the y is mirrored and doubled in the w to its left, all of these lines being the appendages of our couple, who (to me, at least) are the t's that begin and end the word. And between them are their moving parts: their legs, their arms, their hands, their wrysts circulating and twysting and trying. Within this word is all of this twisting, this wresting, wrestling, wrenching, writhing, withing. They are withing together, all alone on the screen, and afterwards their may be nothing left to make of this passion. They have been twinned, twined, twisted into one, maybe for only a short time, with no greater significance to move them on, to keep them together, to make something of their lives. pw(o'er)md