Friday, May 18, 2012

O.O.U. and a Summer Poem Swap

A while back, I told you about a book called The Dictionary of Imaginary Places by Alberto Manguel and Gianni Guadalupi, whose entries had inspired me to write a Directory of Imaginary Poems. Sometimes just a single line in a description of a place makes me go "What?" and a poem develops from there.

O.O.U. was sparked by a line in the description of Albur from Voyage au centre de la terre, 1821, author unknown.

by Tabatha Yeatts

The press secretary had called the new law
O.O.U. for short
(Only the Old and Ugly)
to make it easy to remember.

He had been surprised to find that the O.O.U. announcement --
Makeup and other such decorations
will be solely for use
by the elderly and the unattractive --

was greeted with a
thoughtful silence.

The next day, garbage collectors hefted
trash bins full of powders and creams,
strained their backs
on a rainbow of rejected canisters, bottles, and tubes,

daring photographers focused on landfills
and their lustrous pools of melted rouge
with mountains of mascara brushes
dangling drizzles from dark swirls,

graffiti artists devoted themselves
to an emerging new style-- shiny and slick--
drawing on a wide array
of salvaged lipsticks,

and quick-thinking birds
sang about the sweet dreams
that came from sleeping in cozy nests
built of scavenged powder puffs.


Interested in joining a Summer Poem Swap? The idea is that every two weeks beginning June 22 through August 17, you will mail someone a freshly-written poem and you will receive one.

Your assignment, should you decide to accept it, is to write five poems during that time period and share each poem with one person in a tangible format. I will be randomly matching poem swappers up. (You won't be sending all your poems to the same person.) Interested? Email me! tabatha(at)tabathayeatts(dot)com. The deadline for joining will be June 1st since people will be mailing out the first round of poems by June 22nd.

Disclaimer: I thought maybe I shouldn't make a logo because this is very casual swap, but I like logos.

Katya at Write. Sketch. Repeat. is our Poetry Friday host today.


Katya said...

I'd love to participate in the poetry swap -- what a great idea.

Author Amok said...

Hi, Tabatha. I know I can't commit to a poem swap this summer, but have fun. It's a great idea!

I love the concept of your poem and the last line in particular -- those scavenged powder puffs. What a sensory image!

jama said...

Cool poem. Love how you built it around that one line. It's really got me thinking :).

Linda B said...

I believe your imagination powers are great, Tabatha. I don't know whether I like those photographers at the land fill best, or the birds nesting in powder puffs. I would love to do the poetry swap, will send an e-mail. Thanks for the idea!

Joy said...

I'm thinking of those birds nesting on powder puffs, with their sweet baby powder smell and wonder what the baby birds born on such luxury will grow up to be. Will they only sing classical music? Will they be attracted to bangles and spangles? Will their clothes be feathered in bright collage? what would they look for in a speed dating mate?

I love the idea of a summer poetry swap. count me in and I will email you directly. Thanks for sharing the ideas and this poem.

Ruth said...

It's a great idea, but I won't be in one spot all summer. Maybe you can do another one in the fall?

Meanwhile, I like your poem. There's something lovely about "scavenged powder puffs."

Liz Steinglass said...

I love the powder puffs and the shift away from humans in the last stanza.

GatheringBooks said...

The Dictionary of Imaginary Places sounds so glorious, Tabatha! And I love how you constantly come up with something innovative, thoughtful, and poetry related with your challenges! With a cute widget too!

My favorite lines are the ones with the quick-thinking birds and the scavenged powder puffs. :)

Carol said...

Tabatha-- I teach fourth grade and my girls have been breaking out the lip gloss and mascara and glittery stuff during lunch recess. It breaks my heart that they are so young, and gorgeous, and feel the desire/need to recreate myself. Your poem makes such a great statement. I'd love to share this in a class of middleschoolers and see what they thought.

violet said...

What an imaginative poem from those three initials! Love your poem swap idea... (I've saved your email.)

Tabatha said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, everyone! I felt like maybe I should have told you more about the bit of the Albur entry that inspired this poem, so I looked it up (I couldn't remember the exact bit).

It was two sentences, in a paragraph that describes the clothes that the inhabitants wear. Both men and women wear simple clothes, similar to the ancient Greeks.

The simplicity of the clothes is largely the result of laws passed by King Brontes, which declare that makeup and decorations are only for old and ugly women. Since people don't see themselves as being old and ugly, "the custom of artificially enhancing their natural charms has completely died out."

Diane Mayr said...

and their lustrous pools of melted rouge This line is my favorite--both the sound of the line, and the image evoked by it are fantastic.

Andromeda Jazmon said...

My favorite line is the thoughtful silence. Then the next day - activity! Wonderful space in between. I love the summer poetry swap idea - count me in!