National Poetry Month: April 24

Hi friends!

Today is, or is it not? It is Wednesday, and that makes it a hump day! But, instead I continue on the April path of National Poetry Month. Today I want to focus on abstraction in relation to writing. When I am working with kids, I often recall a writing exercise that we had in first grade. Mrs. Starr gave us one of those thinking out of the box assignments. There were five questions. An example of one or two might be:

How deep is the sky?


When is the ocean blue?

I recall that need emerged to “get it right.” We all have this tendency, it’s reflexive, built- in, hard-wired in our DNA. But what if you take “right” out of the equation? What if there is no “getting at” anything? Maybe the “answer” might be whatever pops into your head?

There are endless times that I read a new piece of mine in my writer’s roundtable, and the consistent feedback is “I’m not sure I get it!” It’s become a barometer for me of being on the “right track,” in some cases. I like to play in a realm of the unexplored, of the risk-taking, of the abstraction: the what is, might not be.

Today I read a poem by Gertrude Stein called “Cezanne.” I am hugely indebted to Stein, whose work I came across in college. Her experimental literary forays inspire me to leap into the unknown, trust my intuition, brave to be different:

Robert Vaughan reads Gertrude Stein’s “Cezanne” – YouTube

About Robert Vaughan

Originally from NY, Robert leads week long National writing retreats at sites like Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Synergia Ranch, and EarthRise IONS. His poems and fiction are published in over 600 print and online magazines, such as Necessary Fiction, BlazeVOX, Los Angeles Weekly, Literary Orphans and Smokelong Quarterly. He is Editor-in-Chief at Bending Genres and leads round- tables for Redoak Writing in Milwaukee. He is nine times a Pushcart Prize Nominee and his fiction and poetry have won awards, including a Micro-Fiction runner-up (2012) and twice a finalist in the Gertrude Stein Fiction Award (2013-14). His books are: Microtones (Cervena Barva Press); Diptychs + Triptychs + Lipsticks + Dipshits (Deadly Chaps); Addicts & Basements (Civil Coping Mechanisms); RIFT, co-authored with Kathy Fish (Unknown Press), and FUNHOUSE (Unknown Press).
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