Baroqueify Assignment #3: Warp Out

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 In the third meeting of the Baroqueify! workshop, we read and discussed two poems, paying special attention to how syntactical choices create baroque effects.
The two poems we read were John Donne’s “The Extasie” and the first section of Lisa Robertson’s “The Men.” In Donne’s poem we looked at the nestedness of the phrases and the archaic (to our eyes) word order inversions. We lingered a bit also on the bizarre imagery of the poem without actually trying to fully explain it. Reading “The Men,” we noted how it moves through various modes, sometimes vulnerable/expressive, at other times anthropological, sometimes tender, sometimes heady, sometimes mocking. There was some resistance to this poem among the readership, and someone said she felt it was inaccessible. Later that reader compared it to Tender Buttons; I said I saw the influence, but also that words in “The Men” seem less thingified. I suggested that we might think of the poem in a painterly sense.  The words “The Men” are the key color (we decided it was a kind of cobalt) around which all of the other colors arrange themselves, in myriad variations.  I gave the example, as I always do, of the 39-minute Mayada el-Hennawy song that has so inspired me in thinking about poetic structure: “Akher Zaman.” It has a catchy chorus to which it always returns, but only after looping into different stylistic modes – classical Egyptian orchestra, 60s guitar, and so on.
Assignment: Write a poem in which you pay special attention to syntax and punctuation as warping devices, to better serve the baroque.

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