The Construction of True Literature

I may have previously mentioned this, but in college, for two years, I majored in poetry. Creative writing, with a very specific focus on poetry. My parents were super proud and supportive – cough. Basically, once I received my associates in poetry, I threw in my towel at McDonald’s because the recruiters were lining up around the block. With that kind of degree, who wouldn’t? The people who invented Google invited me on as a partner with an equal share, but I respectfully declined. I had bigger plans for myself. Bigger plans that a creative writing associates degree, focusing on poetry? Impossible! What should be bigger than that?

A bachelor’s degree in anthropology, obviously.

When I was majoring in poetry, I would say things like “I like poetry – but only GOOD poetry.” AKA my own. Since then, I have come to realize that my poetry wasn’t necessarily that good. But who cares, because how good are your poems, anyway? It’s subjective, you bastards. Ahem – sorry, that poet’s temperament again, I’ll return to drinking my cheap wine straight from the bottle to quell my bitter heart. I also had two blogs where I would post randomness and nonsense. It was my specialty, and I was very lofty about it. OH, MY GOD, I am so obscure, how deep is that? But I enjoyed doing it. I would free write in my blog, and then turn it into a poem for my class. Anyways, here is me quoting myself from back in the day.

So, tomorrow trouble is springing back into town. She’s got her paws on the floor and she’s poised, ready to riot, ready to pounce.

Tomorrow I will post the thought processes that were going through my mind. Then, on Day Three, the finished product.

Oooohhh. Exciting.

The other day I posted one of my old free writes. Free writing is one of my favorite ways to shake the cobwebs out of my brain. You just get your fingers going, and kick making sense in the ass. My previous message was all about getting it out, getting it down. Getting what out and down? Your ideas, of course. Which brings me to today’s post, which is all about having good ideas.

All literature has to have some idea. The poems I read on the bus always have some kind of “Aha!’ idea. But those poems are dumbed down for the public, written by sell-outs, and my former creative writing teacher, actually. I stole his poem off the bus and hung it on my wall, next to my Korn posters. Once again, how cool was I? Back to the poems on the bus – you are too good to write like that. True geniuses take their amazing idea, and hide it – cloak it, if you will – in obscurity. Your reader should have no idea what the hell you’re talking about. They should have to make a hundred wrong guesses about what you meant in their ninth grade English class. Then their teacher should tell them what you really meant, and blow all their minds about how wrong they are. And even then, the teacher is wrong too!

But still. It’s very important to have an idea behind any piece of literature. So, I’m going to deconstruct the piece I shared with you yesterday, and show you the idea behind it. Here is what I was actually talking about.

  • “So, tomorrow trouble is springing back into town.” The first three sentences are me pumping myself up with confidence for the next day. But not a good kind of confidence, naughty confidence. Because I knew that I was going to slaughter my new credit card on a shopping trip. It’s like free money! Ahh, to be 19 again.
  • “Bags swinging malignant and more menacing” This is found amidst a bunch of mumbo jumbo that basically means, I realize that using my credit card to buy shoes and clothes is wrong. I know it’s wrong, but I’m 19 and I’m living for the moment/letting loose, because my over-protective parents set a curfew of “when the streetlights turn on” until I turn 40, and it gets dark in Canada in the winter at 4 p.m – this is all their fault! So, I’m buying those jeans, and throw in the earrings for good measure.
  • “She’s got black-satin-spice to hold in and adorn her, all matte and eyes flat, as alert as a cat,” Here I am referring to myself as a predator, imagining all the energy and confidence my new purchases will infuse me with. Tomorrow is the start of a new me, starting with some high heels and a slinky LBD.
  • “Little pests to crawl clinging up sweaters with vests,” I happened to be watching the news, and there was this interest section showcasing a new fashion trend. Women would purchase bugs – beetles, I think – with jewels attached to them, and a little chain. The women would then chain the little bugs to their sweaters, where they would wander around, glittering and sparkling away. I threw it in the poem – why not?
  • “The flush of the thrush flying right up my neck, and I pause, not caught, but hot for the draw of a lone broken moan” This is me getting far too excited over my upcoming tryst in the mall.

Now, there’s that, all broken down for you. Do you see now why this poem is superior to 99.9% of the poetry produced over It’s because you had no idea in hell what I was referring to.

Or did you?

Either way, my poetry is matchless, sublime and marvelous.

Stay tuned for Part 3, where I edit and then unveil the finished product!

Wow, long awaited. Part 3 of the Construction of True Literature. In Part 1 I showed how I used freewriting to plant the seed of a poem. In Part 2, I discussed meaning, and how there should be some story, some meaning behind any piece of true literature. It does not necessarily matter what that specific meaning is, so long as it is draped in obscurity to the point it becomes nonsense. Now, for Part 3 – finalizing and editing, cementing that piece of True Literature.

Here is my final product, followed by the editing that occurred for it to come into existence in its final form.

tomorrow trouble is springing back into town.

She’s got her paws on the floor and she’s poised, ready to riot, ready to pounce.

A pair of pigtails, a swagger, and a school girl gleam,

we got into the theme with no patience or discretion to spare.

Raw rationality in the heart beating, the greed gleaming over all the ill-gotten gains

we hoarded before, our grins wide with teeth bared,

knuckles braised naughty and sore. Bags swinging malignant and more menacing,

our approach to encroach upon all perceptions of deception,

the lesson to flex some roach-like resilience, the taste of your brilliance, rolling down and over,

far-flung in the mix, the messiest chicks,

so blond and far gone they bleed vinegar and vice,

fingers suck at your skin, a ten-set of lice.

You turn the corner, and before he can warn her, she’s got black-satin-spice to hold in and adorn her,

all matte and eyes flat, as alert as a cat, crouched under the couch, tail wound fully cocked,

chest round and pressed to the ground. A vixen throws bricks, shooting the moon of its pets,

little pests to crawl clinging up sweaters with vests, and

upturned eyes that decry, of course, darling, you’re the best.

I climb as careful as two birds dancing on one stone – the bones are more brittle, I know.

The flush of the thrush flying right up my neck, and I pause,

not caught, but hot for the draw of a lone broken moan.

Now, essentially, the techniques used here are spacing and delete key. I spaced the free write out randomly and then deleted three words. Two of them were “so” and one was “shooting.” The deletion of “so” was actually practical, for good writing. I have a problem; peppering my sentence beginnings with “So” and “Anyways” and “Well” and “But.” The trick is figuring out which words are unnecessary, superfluous, extra padding with no purpose, extraneous,  redundant – you know what I mean. Then chop them out. Some writer somewhere in some quote once said that a very high percentage of what you write is likely meant to be thrown away. Something like “Write a 100% and then leave only 20%. Then you will be left with all the best stuff.” This is an inexact quote, but it is mostly true. Except in my case, and likely yours. Ours will be perfect with only three words taken out.

This is the final segment in my three-part series. If you have anything you would like to contribute – feedback, questions, unending praise – then please do in the comments section.