Poetry and 52 Cards

In On Poetry Glyn Maxwell gives a writing exercise where you draw from a deck of cards. Each suit prompts a social situation; each value prompts a setting. Draw a card. Write a stanza. Repeat. Or not.

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Memorizing Mandelshtam

Re-reading Glyn Maxwell’s On Poetry, I took special note of this following passage, which appears just before a section break.

A memorized poem can be passed to you intact. I think this makes the written poem unique, in terms of our relationship with its materials—by which I mean the black (something there) and the white (nothing there). The Stalin regime could destroy Osip Mandelstam, but not the poems his widow Nadezhda had learned by heart. That’s something and nothing showing their true colors.

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