Po­etry: Trans­form­ing Lan­guage

Poets and Writers - - The Time Is Now -

“If I’m trans­formed by lan­guage, I am of­ten / crouched in foot­note or blaz­ing in ti­tle. / Where in the body do I be­gin.” Many of the po­ems in Layli Long Sol­dier’s de­but col­lec­tion, Whereas (Gray­wolf Press, 2017), ex­plore his­tor­i­cal re­la­tions be­tween Na­tive Amer­i­cans and the U.S. gov­ern­ment through a lens fo­cus­ing on lin­guis­tics and dif­fer­ent forms of of­fi­cial lan­guage. Write a poem us­ing found lan­guage from of­fi­cial doc­u­ments or ref­er­ence ma­te­ri­als, such as le­gal de­crees, ap­pli­ca­tions, sur­veys, dic­tio­nary def­i­ni­tions, his­tory text­books, or iden­ti­fi­ca­tion cards, to ex­plore per­sonal feel­ings about na­tion­al­ity, iden­tity, or fam­ily his­tory. What makes the lan­guage and gram­mar in th­ese texts pow­er­ful? Tak­ing in­spi­ra­tion from Long Sol­dier’s po­ems, in­cor­po­rate for­mat­ting and styling that con­trib­ute to the emo­tional in­ten­tions of your poem, such as strikethrough, bor­der boxes, white space, side­ways ori­en­ta­tion of words and lines, ital­ics, quo­ta­tion marks, punc­tu­a­tion, and paren­the­ses.

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