Cats and Telephones

Hallo?
I’m sorry
for seeming distracted.
I’m trying to round up the cats.
I need to get them in their baskets.
I’ve managed to get the big one in
and she’s meowing so mournfully.
I so hate to do this to them.
The little one’s hiding
under the bed.
I’m sorry, what
was it you
wanted?

Kim M. Russell, 20th April 2018

Cats and Telephones 2

My response to The Poetry School NaPoWriMo prompt for Day 20: Personism

Ali would like us to write a poem that speaks directly to another person. It should be written so that we ‘could use the telephone instead of writing the poem’, according to Frank O’Hara in his manifesto, Personism, a movement which he ‘recently founded and which nobody knows about’. O’Hara says: “While I was writing it I was realizing that if I wanted to I could use the telephone instead of writing the poem, and so Personism was born. It’s a very exciting movement which will undoubtedly have lots of adherents. It puts the poem squarely between the poet and the person, Lucky Pierre style, and the poem is correspondingly gratified. The poem is at last between two persons instead of two pages.” The poem he refers to here is ‘Personal Poem’, our example poem.

Ali asks us to note how the poem speaks directly to the addressee (casually, as if on the phone) but doesn’t mention them or discuss their relationship with the speaker.

I’ve been off-line for a couple of days, so I’m catching up. I found this one hard to take in while I had intermittent Internet and a temperamental Kindle, but looking at it in the cold light of Sunday morning, I think it might be do-able. This conversation actually happened on 20th April and I scribbled it down that evening after reading the prompt.

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