Friday, February 24, 2006

Erica Carpenter releases new book of poetry!

Erica Carpenter, an artist mentor at New Urban Arts this year, has just released a new book of poetry, published by Burning Deck. Perspective Would Have Us takes us into experiences where reality seems to blink, and we find ourselves at home in the world. Dreams, films, foreign countries are entered as if they were fields of radiation with the power to mutate the forms of what we know or think we know. The underground currents of language move clusters of meaning in a dance not unlike the vibrations of quantam theory's fields of energy.

Erica Carpenter was born in 1970, in Wickford, RI (a fishing village at the time, now turned boutique village.) She got her BA at Vassar (1993), her MFA at Brown (1998). In between, she traveled in the US as well as Turkey, Greece, and the Czech Republic. She has managed antique shops and now works as a freelance writer and as an artist mentor at New Urban Arts studio.

Her poems have been published in magazines like Lingo, Twenty-Six, and No: A Journal of the Arts. A chapbook, Summoned to the Fences, was published by Etherdome in 2002.
Perspective Would Have Us is her first full book.

The following is a poetry workshop that Erica led in our studio on October 11, 2005.

)What is a constraint? Dictionary definition: con·straint (kn-strnt) n.

1. The threat or use of force to prevent, restrict, or dictate the action or thought of others. 2. The state of being restricted or confined within prescribed bounds: soon tired of the constraint of military life. 3. One that restricts, limits, or regulates; a check: ignored all moral constraints in his pursuit of success. 4. Embarrassed reserve or reticence; awkwardness: “All constraint had vanished between the two, and they began to talk” (Edith Wharton).

…Generally a negative word, but poets use poetic constraints to help open their minds to newer and fresher ways of saying things.

A poetic constraint is a random rule that you make for yourself before writing a poem – for instance: “I will write a poem without using the letter e” or “I will write the story of my life without using the words I, me, you, he, she, they, them, or it.”

WHY WRITE WITH CONSTRAINTS? when you write with constraints your brain is forced to find other ways to say things than the way you would normally say them.

Writing Prompt: I have neglected your love

Constraint: only use the words in the prompt plus 4 more of your own

Example of poetry produced:

I have neglected your love
I have your love
Your love has neglected me
I am your love
Me, I,
your love
Neglected I have or have I
Or have
your love
I am your love
I have neglected me.

By Maria Gonzalez, age 16

Rosa Cantor, age 16, also participates in Erica's workshop. It has influenced her when she designs poetry workshops that she leads for middle school students in Providence. Two workshops that she has learned in Erica's worshop that she has taught to younger students include:

IF AND OR poem

How to Write it:

· Write ten lines that begin with the word “if”

· Change “if” to “but” in lines 1, 6, & 8

· Change “if” to “and” in line 5

· Change “if” to “or” in lines 3 & 10

· Go back and look at the new meanings the changes have created, and rewrite the poem or take a few lines out to create a new piece of work.

1) but

2) if

3) or

4) if

5) and

6) but

7) if

8) but

9) if

10) or

Write 10 sentences that begin with "If."

Example written by Rosa:

If I never moved

If I never aged

If I was younger

If only I could fly

If I was a monkey

If age really didn't matter

If life was longer

If I was never able to die

If this never ends

If this never changes

Next change the first word from the line as shown below:

1. If to But

2. Stays the same

3. If to Or

4. Stays the same

5. If to And

6. If to But

7. Stays the same

8. If to But

9. Stays the same

10. If to Or

Here's an example of the final result written by Rosa:

But I never moved

If I never aged

Or I was younger

If only I could fly

And I was a monkey

But age really didn't matter

If life was longer

But I was never able to die

If this never ends

Or this never changes

Here is an example by Jason Pontius, our friend at

White Whale Web Services.

But I could stop asking myself whether I'm happy or not

If I had complete solitude for two hours

Or I slept all weekend

If Billie Joe Armstrong weren't as beautiful as he is

And the world was a more forgiving place

But I come up with five more sentences

If I were the person I dream of being

But I'm gonna get to the post office

If I get to make a speech when accepting my award

Or I took the rest of the day off


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