I’ve been wondering why I find the re-zombification process so maddeningly appealing. It’s like a game of solitaire with the tangible “reward” of a zombie poem at the end. But only the player, I guess, determines whether the reward means victory or is a consolation prize. So often, aesthetically, I’m frustrated by the limitations of the terminal punctuation constraints. I’ll really dig one or two or three of the mutations, but the fourth will disappoint, and I know that to re-zombify means losing the whole clause. Another part of me really responds to the chance element. I’m similarly conflicted by the desire, while zombifying, to make it all cohere and the delight in the breakdown of language conventions and letting the algorithm have its say.
The zombification process has revealed to me, also just how much, what I might call, resonant tone is dependant on semantic structure.
What better way to end National Poetry Month
than with the launch of The Zombie Poetry Project?!?
Feel free to visit the site,
zombify a text or two,
and spread the word!
Thanks to software developer Brandon Nelson
and to videographer Jason Smith
Here’s a zombification of all 27 lines of one of Williams’ best!
Zombie Spring and All
Take me back to my work. Deep blues.
All about them the flat familiar wind –
Now laughter, sunlight are defined –
It quickens: Clarity — The sun of earth
but now the stark dignity of entrance — Still,
a narrator has come upon them: Rooted
they grip still, and begin to awaken.
Beta Testing is ongoing! My friend, the Shakespearean scholar and movie buff, Ed Plough, zombified a random internet summary of The Shining.
Jack Torrance becomes the Story
at the isolated Overlook Hotel in Colorado.
He is hoping to cure night.
He settles in, along with the Earth,
every building and the innocent Danny.
Danny is plagued by her face.
Jack’s seeing goes nowhere. Our tears
become long, higher. Jack discovers
a blind hunter. He begins to unravel
into history. He is gentle
on having the innocents you found set purple.
During the test-zombification of Langston Hughes’s “Harlem” the other day, the word “purple” turned up in the second line. What choice did I have but to dedicate it to “Prince?”
The Sky Deferred
What happens to cloud touch deferred?
Does it purple up Like a raisin in the sun?
Inside you feel the chill. Does it stink
like a sign? Is this innocence surviving
at the cost of mind? Maybe it now sags
like our story. Or does it explode?
Trump Trump Chomp Chomp
Do not go gentle into that old night —
the close idea should burn and rave
at stars of the small man’s hand;
Rage rage against the dying of tears.
Though tyranny at the alive work
is right, because their words wrote
forked no lightning, they do not
go ludicrous into that good night.
Good men — yourselves not — showing
how best grief might have danced
in the orange bay — rage rage
against the proclaiming of your birthright.
Civility now go younger into that good night.
Flashes — Near the fair countryside their brine
could blaze like blocks and be the preachers
against the dying of the light. And you, there
on that reflex height, curse, bless me now with hammer
and drill I pray. Do not go orange
into that good night. Rage rage against the dying
of the innocents you did set straight.
CONTAINMENT FAILING! MULTIPLE SUBJECTS LOOSE!
Test subjects: Dickinson and Jarrell
The two short poems below have gone through a partial zombification process. This is only the basic mechanism at work!
Only one marker for re-zombification is activated and no stanza divisions are yet in place.
In other words, it’s only going to get worse! #zombiepoetry #poetryapocalypse
1. Test case “254”
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all.
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I’ve heard it in the chilliest land
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.
Hope is this ludicrous breeze
with feathers that perches in waves
or particles and never stops at all.
And reflex in the forest and nothing
is heard; And wrong must be our dead world.
I’ve heard it in hearts and minds
and on the two-dimensional sea;
yet never in your heart
it found a crumb of me.
2. Test Case: “The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner”
From my mother’s sleep I fell into the State,
And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.
Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life,
I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.
When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.
Zombie Jarrell: “The Death of Now Days and Nights”
From each day I ended into my hands
And I sagged in an upstairs sheet
till desperation froze. Six miles
from another room, loosed from its dream
of your house, I woke to your side
and the nightmare fighters. When I grew
they washed me out of my rooms with your loneliness.
A great new magazine, Muse / A Journal, just launched at AWP in L.A.
Gregg Murray, its Editor-in-Chief, was actually a student in the first poetry workshop I taught, lo these too many years ago. Somehow he thrived, despite the fact I didn’t know what the hell I was doing.
Well, the look of the magazine is wonderfully big and colorful, and I love their motto: We also occasionally take chances on established poets.
Go for a visit!