Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Introducing 84s

My birthday, shared with W.H. Auden.

I want to continue putting out examples of ongoing poem-exchanges.
with a recently concluded sequence of 84s. Each link contains exactly
84 characters (letters or punctuation, not spaces). Why 84? Any arbitrary
number would do, for this is mainly a practice in seeking concision, but
84 represents a sort of modest tip of the hat to the Buddha, who was said
to have left 84,000 different teachings because of the variety of human
sensibilities -- the opposite of one-size-fits-all.

Lawrence and I keep two of these sequences going at all times, taking
turns starting new ones once a theme seems to have come to a natural
ending. Mostly a single 84 is sent (using the word-counter on the computer
to zero in on the required length). Now and then we get going on a sequence,
with "+" between links to indicate that we're into a multi-stanza
offering. Otherwise we just use a "*" to indicate the end of our turn,
and we don't bother to label who's writing what (the Buddha smiles
over that). This post is longening -- the example comes tomorrow!



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