Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Prevailing Winds, Pantoums, and Poetry Book Trailers

If you came here hoping to see my book trailer, scroll down. I'd love some commentary!

So, a week ago, I was playing with this map, thinking about sea level rise, realizing that my house is fairly protected, although eventually my neighborhood will transform into an island. This week, as nuclear plants continue to explode and burn, I'm realizing I should have been studying charts of the prevailing winds.

What to do? I suppose we could go to the store and stock up on supplies, but I'm fairly well-stocked and besides, fairly far away. For those of you on the Pacific coast, here's my counsel: should disaster come, you'll need more water than you think. During the disastrous hurricane season of 2005, we lost water for several days. I had stocked more water than recommended, but we went through it more quickly than I would have predicted, even though we used it sparingly, only flushing once or twice a day.

Of course a radiation plume doesn't mean water supply will be disrupted, does it? Or will workers abandon their posts? Can water supplies be delivered without human workers?

How little I know about modern infrastructure.

My response to disaster has often been to write pantoums. I wrote a pantoum in the early days of the Iraq war, as the stock market melted down in 2008, as oil gushed into the Gulf last year: yes, I'm seeing a pattern. The pantoum, with its repeating lines, seems remarkably suited to these kind of crises.

Here are the first two stanzas from my all-time favorite pantoum that I've written, "Alternate Apocalypse":

We expected mushroom clouds and radiation.
Instead we changed the chemistry of the atmosphere.
Chunks of glaciers break for freedom and sail across the sea.
Ice caps melt, and the sea swallows islands.

Instead we changed the chemistry of the atmosphere,
yet we refuse to believe the evidence of global warming.
Ice caps melt, and the sea swallows islands,
but global warming is just an unproved theory.


For those of you who need to see a complete pantoum as a model, here's the one that I wrote last year which appeared at the Poets for Living Waters website:

Alternate Apocalypse #3


We expected mushroom clouds and radiation.
We didn’t anticipate a plume on the ocean floor,
an unstoppable gusher.
We thought we would run out of oil.

We didn’t anticipate a plume on the ocean floor.
We assumed precautions had been taken.
We thought we would run out of oil.
Now we worry the flow will never stop.

We assumed precautions had been taken.
We thought there was an emergency plan.
Now we worry the flow will never stop.
We face a future of oily seas.

We thought there was an emergency plan.
We thought they cared about the environment.
We face a future of oily seas,
a fishless existence our fate.

We thought they cared about the environment.
Now we watch migratory birds slicked with petroleum.
A fishless future our fate,
we cry over lost treasures.

Now we watch migratory birds slicked with petroleum.
We hear the stories of generations living on the water.
We cry over lost treasures,
marine animals, an ecosystem, an ocean, a planet.

We hear the stories of generations living on the water.
All these cultures will evaporate:
marine animals, an ecosystem, an ocean, a planet.
We expected mushroom clouds and radiation.

But maybe writing a pantoum is too grim a mission for you. Maybe you want something more life-affirming. Create a book trailer for a book that doesn't exist yet or for one that hasn't found a publisher yet. A year ago I started experimenting with book trailers and animated/video poems. I knew that once I had a book accepted for publication, I might not have time to learn this software.

I must confess that I created a possible trailer for a different book, but no matter; it was fun to play. This post is getting a bit long, and I have to be at work early, so tomorrow, I'll write a post about how I created this trailer. You're the first viewers, so I'd be interested in hearing what you think, especially if there's anything in the trailer that would be such a turn-off that you wouldn't buy the book.


video

4 comments:

Kathleen said...

Oh, my, the pantoum seems a perfect form indeed for our cycles, patterns, and routines of trouble and neglect, our losses and woes. And the reminder, via beauty, of what we must work to save.

(I will come back for the book trailer.)

Sandy Longhorn said...

Kristin, the pantoum does seem perfect for this, and yours is wonderful.

The trailer doesn't show up, just a white space where it should be. :(

Kristin said...

How strange; I'm seeing it on this end. Does the white space have a play button in the bottom left corner? Sometimes when I've posted video, there's a dark screen, but when you hit the play button, it works.

I'll see if others have this problem, and see if I can figure out how to correct it if so. Of course, the video is at the home computer, and I'm at school.

Sandy Longhorn said...

Kristin, just white space. I'm using Firefox, and maybe I'm missing a plug-in somewhere. I'll check it out at school and see what's there.