Sunday, January 26, 2014

Cento by Carol Peters

Loose Veil of Sundown
— a cento

from Poetry in Motion


seeing that blind wall approach
I spend my time tending to the animals in me
stub-dicked boys from the Maghreb
Hildigunna the leech, their sister
the horses have not yet been jettisoned
a man in a skirt is never alone
sounds tend to inadvertently mean while sounding
rendering mystical & hermetical
a meadow for gazelles, a cloister for monks
the hacked out cots of silk bog children
technical matters of lexicography
the importance of never seeming stupid
we who ride a board on the back of the seal
stay interested in the lone man’s liberty
this mountain of people in motion
deny what the text actually said
it can no longer be the nation
lyric is invented in bitter exile
language is not where we perform our thought
when you print a poem on it, the paper’s value is lost
what I love to ask is what I know


I happen to think Carol Peters is one of the most brilliant people on the planet, and her way of looking at the world is often unique (and sometimes exasperatingly alien). She reads more than anyone I've ever known, daily piles of poetry and fiction. And she writes her own as well. The above piece is a cento which simply sings to me in its lush language combinations that somehow make utter sense to my ear. I cannot begin to describe my ardor for her intellectual acumen.

From the Latin word for "patchwork," the cento (or collage poem) is a poetic form made up of lines from poems by other poets. Though poets often borrow lines from other writers and mix them in with their own, a true cento is composed entirely of lines from other sources. Early examples can be found in the work of Homer and Virgil.

For a daily dose of Carol's wonderful antics, her own and others, see WAY .

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