Poems with attitude – Aleksandra Lane

“What we need is recklessness and an owl-shit outburst and a good smack upside the head every now and then. I, too, am a creature of electrified lint; give me a doily and I’ll blow my nose on it, and I mean that in the best possible way…The irreverent is the irrelevant’s revenge.” Dean Young, “The Art of Recklessness”

Think of something that makes you angry—some great injustice or everyday annoyance. It has to be something you are passionate about at the time. Do not write about it. Address the poem to the person(s) you imagine responsible (your boss, God, Key, Obama), but make sure the poem never mentions the actual injustice.

Tell the person you’re addressing what the weather is like, tell them about your day, your job, you can talk about anything at all except the actual problem, the real source of anger.

In other words: get angry, then show some attitude.

Additional rules: Do not use direct address (i.e. no second person, no ‘you’ should be present in the poem). Use as much repetition as you can get away with. End with a single-word sentence. (e.g. ‘Now.’ or ‘Yes.’)

I’m now not entirely sure where I got this from, but it’s most likely derived from one or more exercises given to me by Chris Price during my MA at IIML, or found in either Bill Manhire’s essays/books or alternatively in one of Massey poetry papers’  Study Guides (139.760, 139.229 or 139.123).

Aleksandra Lane is the author of Birds of Clay, which will be launched on February 11th. This is her first book in English, after two published in Serbian. Aleks moved to New Zealand in 1996, and completed her MA in Creative Writing at Victoria University’s Institute of Modern Letters in 2010, receiving the Biggs Poetry Prize. Her poems have been published in Jacket2, Sport, Turbine, Takahe, Snorkel, Side Stream and Swamp. She lives in Wellington and is studying for a PhD in English at Massey University.