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Scrabble Poems Process

Sometimes I explain making scrabble poems but a demonstration is clearer than words.

bendsproof
Following the lines of where the word touch so that the board forces the connections instead of cherry picking and flying off with the ideas too fast can make a more unusual construction. For example, starting in the top right corner there’s a promising cluster.

Bah, jive-jargon box
some ox goad sooting nothing

a tut-tut entering.
the needy, pouty, fated

bends spaghetti proofs to
a boil. the steely pervs soak

I added a few connector words and a couple more soft tissue words to the bones on the board to tilt it towards an image. What’s it about. It is about language. People like to deep analyze and that’s fine if one enjoys the process. It will yield less than your average dream analysis. It is about rhythm and sound and cheek-jowling-ideas. Significance takes a backseat to play, observing, opening and making. Further outcomes are another day’s concern.

That syntax here links everything together with a sense of sense. It may be cursed with the word “evocative”.

It’s something of a procedural poem, reinjected with some fiddling so it isn’t pure. It’s somewhere between aleatoric and automatic.

A mood may come up, like pouty, wimp and needy. You are still choosing the route in a twister sort of way. Some boards are flat. Some work better.

Each board may get a tone from who plays and the luck and strategy. Some people wait up and aim for bingos so are longer words. Some play to densely pack a small area of the board. Some play cooperatively and geometrically making balanced patterns on the board. Some play defence and block any potential bingos. Some people are big on scrabble dictionary words that aren’t in usual conversation, or disproportionally there like qi and ane, biz, xu, ova, suq and quanta, for example. It all affects what material there is to work with. Sometimes over a few boards there’s just a juxtaposition of a keeper phrase. Still its good to do an exercise because running your eyes over something is less effective than transcribing. You see differently with the fingers.

Is it a personal poem? It isn’t story of me conventionally stripped back to one mood story arc. But half the corpus of words for scrabble poems are all scraped from what the self produced.

The other half come from a kind of conversation of associations were made during the game. For example, in other boards, the word “aged”, followed by “bang”, may then have “aged” turned into “raged”. The little plays into part words is part of the amusement of scrabble or poetry.

The letters for “jive” coming up just after the word “dance” is played. “Rice” is strung onto the word “eat” and “solo” the word “sadly”… or “shore”, “trawl” and “his sos kiss” can make a kind of frame that springs towards something.

Like any form of poetry, it is better not to direct it too soon and force a sense on it. It can find its own shape. It can be weeded or left verdant, so to speak. It can stop at part of one board, or sometimes when there isn’t any click, when not enough content is generated from one board, I may use 2-5 for one poem. It may be in later edits mashed up in a best of remix. Or as a process poem do what poems do best and make connections between things you wouldn’t usually think of in the same breath.

As Jane Hirshfield pointed out in Nine Gates, p 51

It is no coincidence that the avant garde and free verse arrive at roughly the same time. Apparently opposites, the poetics of traditional form and the aesthetics of the arbitrary depend on the same creative ground: the fertility of chance, of juxtaposing mind.

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