This is Amy Lemmon's Typepad Profile.
Join Typepad and start following Amy Lemmon's activity
Join Now!
Already a member? Sign In
Amy Lemmon
Recent Activity
It was bound to happen: no sooner did I publish my last post than I realized that there was already a wonderful series of posts on this very blog by Tess Callahan about the power of constraints to spark creativity. She's even given a lovely TEDx talk on "The Love Affair Between Creativity and Constraint." My contribution this week is to direct you to her "Unleash Creativity" posts, especially "Give Students Chains to Break" and "Impose Time Constraints." In other news, my Older Kid (who is college age, a fact that continues to strike me as rather bizarre) informed me today that he has created a multiplayer, multimodal game for his friends--a sort of scavenger-hunt-slash-role-playing-game--that involves video, text messages, and real physical "plants" of things and people. He told me that he has not felt this good, mood-wise, in a very long time. I gently suggested that this was an example of the healing power of creativity, rigorously supported by research, in action. Since he is on break from classes until the end of the month, we talked about how he might manage to schedule time for his game creation when the new semester starts, and really commit specific hours of the week for musing and engaging in this flow-producing activity. Speaking of classes, preparation for teaching my honors course, Creative Imagination: Theory and Process, at FIT this semester I've been immersing myself in research on design thinking. Stay tuned for a post (or more than one) that connects this popular series of strategies, which emerged from Silicon Valley and is taking all domains by storm, with the art of poetry. Finally, I'm stoked to participate in another of Geoffrey Nutter's Wallson Glass poetry seminars tomorrow. I first learned about this miraculous enterprise from Kathleen Ossip, who mentioned that her brilliant poem "Your Ardor" was first drafted in one of Geoffrey's classes: At the end of a semester when I’ve taught a lot, I like to go be a student, for balance. Last May I ended up in Geoffrey Nutter’s wonderful private class in upper Manhattan, which centers around a magical pile of source texts strewn across a long table; at that table, I wrote ‘Your Ardor.’ So there are images and language from those texts in the poem, and ardor was very much on my mind at the time. Here's to more ardor, more balance, and many, many poems! Continue reading
Posted Jan 12, 2018 at The Best American Poetry
Impossible to choose. I like them both!
Since posting I've discovered a great post by Tess Callihan, "Unleash Creativity Part 3: Impose Time Constraints" with very specific examples:
REDACTED by Bri Hermanson Happy 2018, friends in BAP-land! Like many of you, I'm sure, I have resolved to create more in 2018. For me that means going back to time-tested tools like morning pages, crazy exercises like copying random lines from someone else's books and writing my own lines around them, and even (gasp) collaboration. So far the plan has not been going well, due to a three-stop, five-state Family Holiday Auto Tour extravaganza, and a three-day recovery period during which Younger Kid refused to fall asleep before 2 a.m. and thus missed the bus and had to be driven to school. Then, the Polar Bomb Cyclone or whatever-the-hell arrived in all its overtaxed brain was nearly frozen to a halt. Never fear, 'tis Friday, and that means I got a groovy email in my inbox from Austin Kleon. He's the author of Steal Like an Artist, so I'm sure he will understand my shamelessly poaching one of the links from his newsletter for my post. This article, from Inc. of all places, is a bit of a mishmash but has some nuggets we can take into our daily practice. News flash: constraints are good for creativity. We poets already knew that the strictures of line, rhyme, and meter, the rules of word-games like anagrams and abcedarians, all can forge a spark and pop up some language we might otherwise not have brought forth in quite that way. How many of you have written a sestina or villanelle that surprised you and took you beyond the "control zone"? It occurs to me that the CDC Poetry Project offers an incredible opportunity to tap into this principle, requiring as it does poems using 7 particular words. Hundreds of poets all over the world are giving it a try. In our inaugural week we've published Kathrine Varnes, Patricia Spears Jones, Lesley Wheeler, Lisa Fay Coutley, Margot Douaihy, and Bri Hermanson (whose word poem/illustration graces this post). All of these pieces were composed within 10 days of our putting out the call; my co-editor Sarah Freligh and I have marveled not only at the volume of submissions but at the variety and vigor of the poems, all of which adhere to our constraints. "Innovation is [the] creative person's response to limitation," according to the Inc. article. Put in a box? The better to think outside it, the cliche goes. Freedom is not Slavery, as Orwell's Big Brother would have it. But a little bit of restraint can loosen the mind to break through barriers, literal or metaphorical, and allow the poem to sing, clear and free. Continue reading
Posted Jan 5, 2018 at The Best American Poetry
It's the end of the semester at FIT. Immersed in final grades and end-of-semester tasks as Chairperson of English and Communication Studies, I was trying to bask a bit in the launch of an exhibition of student projects, Communicating Climate Change, the fruits of two years of labor. But then, over the weekend, I read a December 15 Washington Post article about a directive given to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to the article, official documents being prepared by the CDC for their 2018 budget were not to contain the words "vulnerable," "entitlement," "diversity," "transgender," "fetus," "evidence-based," or "science-based." On December 16, my friend, poet Sarah Freligh, posted a writing challenge to her Facebook friends: “Write a sestina using six of the prohibited words, the seventh as your title.” To say the unsayable, as if were, and what better way to say the words than in a repetitive form like the sestina? I idly posted a comment, “We need an anthology!” Sarah challenged me to edit one, and I declined but instead created a WordPress site – The CDC Poetry Project. Starting this week, we’re actively soliciting poems that say the seven words and do so in a way that speaks truth to power. Go to our Submission Guidelines for details! Continue reading
Posted Dec 17, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
Beautiful! ♥
Coleridge received the Person from Porlock And ever after called him a curse, Then why did he hurry to let him in? He could have hid in the house. It was not right of Coleridge in fact it was wrong (But often we all do wrong) As the truth is I think he was already stuck With Kubla Khan. He was weeping and wailing: I am finished, finished, I shall never write another word of it, When along comes the Person from Porlock And takes the blame for it. --Stevie Smith, "Thoughts about the Person from Porlock" For this, my inaugural post in a series I'm calling "Creativity Rules," it seems appropriate to reference one of the most famous examples of poetic creativity's challenges. As the story goes, Samuel Taylor Coleridge was in the middle of an opium-enhanced dream when, inspired by the description in a book he'd read before nodding off, Kubla Khan's palace appeared and "the images rose up before him as things, with a parallel production of the correspondent expressions, without any sensation or consciousness of effort." Upon waking the poet transcribed as many of the lines as he could before he was rudely interrupted by a visitor and forced to speak with him of business for an hour. After this intrusion, Coleridge claimed, he could only scrape together a few lines from the dream vision and the rest of the poem came after very hard labor. Stevie Smith calls poppycock, insisting that the Porlockian is a scapegoat for STC's own compositional glitch. And scholars have noted that the version of "Kubla Khan: Or, A Vision in a Dream" that was published nearly two decades later was very different from the initial transcription. As developed as it was, Coleridge felt compelled to tag it as "A fragment," testimony to the exquisite frustration all poets know when their final product is a mere shadow--however well-wrought--of the brilliant vision they had at the outset. Writers are notorious for their quirky creative habits, their fetishes and rituals--Stephen Spender tells us that Friedrich Schiller (roughly Coleridge's contemporary) needed a whiff of rotting apples to compose--for me doing this post today, it was Indian food and half a box of Mallomars. But whatever smells and spells we use to get ourselves in the mood, there comes a point when we are facing the blank page--or screen--and that is when the real terror sets in. No wonder there are so many books, articles, blogs, videos, and podcasts about the creative process and its so-called secrets. I started to find out just how much material is out there on this subject, and how much continues to be produced at a staggering rate, when I developed an honors course at the Fashion Institute of Technology called "Creative Imagination: Theory and Process." My initial bibliography for the proposal was 11 pages, and each time I teach the class I discover some new sources to incorporate into my syllabus and lectures. In recent years the advances in... Continue reading
Posted Oct 23, 2015 at The Best American Poetry
So wonderful to find Anna here, and to see her gorgeous painting! Thanks, SDH! xo