Thursday, June 7, 2012

Aimless Reading: The S's, Part 19.31 (William Shakespeare)

Henry the Sixth: Part I
Shakespeare, William
Henry the Sixth: Part 1

I can't figure out how to write the sentence I am trying to write. What? I am still feeling stuck in a rut with this blog. Part of this has to do with the sheer number of unread or unremembered titles in the Shakespeare section. I have noted this before. Add to this that the fact that I did not put the books in any kind of order when I shelved them after the move, resulting in titles like this, which is part one of three, appearing after parts two and three, and I find myself feeling extra futile. I still have not written that how I want to, but who has the time?

I take a little bit of heart from designer Michael Bierut, who has for the past five years been using an exercise similar to the concept of this blog in his graphic design class at Yale. It's called "one hundred days," and the exercise involves asking students to perform some repetitive graphic design task every day for a hundred days. He says the exercise is mostly about pushing through to the end and coming to understand that boredom and frustration are a part of the creative process. Most students, he says, start to lose focus after 10-20 days. Here's his essay on the first five years of the class, with examples from his students:

Anyhow, I don't think any of the students have taken it this far. We've been going now for over 1200 days, missing a few here and there. I definitely find pushing through these periods of boredom and frustration useful. After the fact, of course! I also feel that this process of daily engagement has not only augmented the creative process that goes into my poetry, but has fundamentally altered the poetry I've been writing. I'll let others judge if that is for better or for worse, but I have enjoyed learning how to push forward into a different mode of thinking about my work.

You can see examples of this on the web in various places, most recently at Halvard Johnson's On Barcelona blog. While the poetry in my first two books tended toward compression, the poems that make up my forthcoming book, as well as the ones I continue to write, have moved in quite the opposite direction, pushing towards expansion, and I think the flow of them has been derived from the practice of recalling and writing out various memories on a daily basis here at PBH.

So, bear with me. I am sure I'll push through the tedium soon. I am also sure that whatever I am doing here will look quite different at the end than it did at the beginning. Which is part of the point, I guess.

from Henry the Sixth: Part One

Hung be the heavens with black, yield day to night!
Comets, importing change of times and states,
Brandish your crystal tresses in the sky,
And with them scourge the bad revolting stars
That have consented unto Henry's death!
King Henry the Fifth, too famous to live long!
England ne'er lost a king of so much worth.

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