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Tinker

Afflatus or Projacking

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Explore the Craft of Writing Poetry
Invented Forms

Afflatus and/or Projack

  • Afflatus is defined as "the act of blowing or breathing on" and also "overmastering impulse". As a poetic genre, it is the response to an existing poem by another poet in spirit, construction, theme etc inspiring one's own creation.. Afflatus is taking inspiration from another poem, when using the same structure it is the same as Projacking.
     
  • Projacking is an exercise in writing learned from a poetry workshop on-line. Basically it means writing a poem using the frame or structure from a published nonce poem written by another.  All of the recognized verse forms were "projacked" at one time or another. The very first sonnet was projacked by someone who imitated the sonnet frame using their own words and thoughts. Now there are many variations of sonnets, all because someone imitated or copied the structure of another's poem.

    I am pretty sure William Carlos Williams, writing the Red Wheelbarrow did not think he was creating a new verse form. But we know from Donald Hall's "How to Read a Poem", the frame of the poem is duplicated in an exercise directed by the text, there must be hundreds maybe thousands of "wheelbarrows" out there somewhere. The "wheelbarrow" isn't in the New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics or most other verse form books, but it has been projacked and the form is developing a following. 

    So if you see a poem you particularly admire, give projacking a try. You might discover something about writing you didn't know before and it might even remove some inhibitions you may have, it did me. The first poem I chose to projack was homage to my hips by Lucille Clifton. Honestly when I put my own words and thoughts to the frame created by Ms. Clifton I wrote something that I probably would never have written without following her lead. I learned a great deal about writing from this simple exercise.
    1. Find a published poem you enjoy.
    2. Do a thorough explication of the poem. Study the content, the intent, opening, progression, and conclusion, the poetic devices used, line count and length, stanza separation, figurative speech used, alliteration, assonance, enjambment, caesura, rhyme scheme, etc. What makes this poem special?
    3. Imitate the frame or structure of the poem using your own thoughts and words.
    4. With your poem, you should recognize the poet and poem that inspired your work.

      leg-acy by Judi Van Gorder (projacked from homage to my hips by Lucille Clifton)

      these legs are long legs
      they need room to
      stretch and flex.
      they do not scrunch up into tight
      quarters, these legs
      are boundless
      they won't break stride.
      these legs have trudged up mountains,
      they carry the weight of a family
      they have run the race of survival
      these legs are strong legs
      these legs are dancer's legs.
      i have been known to bare them
      to draw his eyes
      and bring him to his knees!

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