My professor, Di Brandt, an accomplished Canadian poet, stated that the genre that includes so much variety has been around for awhile, but has never had a permanent title. It has been referenced as the Long Poem or Experimental Writing and probably many other non-specific identifiers, but none that took hold as the official title. In an effort to include all that the genre entails, and to inform students, Professor Brandt created the Multi-genre, Multimedia, Disjunctive Poetic Narrative Dream Text title and course.
We studied several texts, reading through them all at the same time. This provided the small group of inspired students with a multi-genre-multimedia-disjunctive-poetic-narrative-dream text reading experience. (Okay, I'll spare you further repetition of the lengthy title, but in class we had a lot of fun with it!)
All the texts were by Canadian authors:
- Blue Marrow by Louise Bernice Halfe
- I Knew Two Metis Women by Gregory Scofield
- Seed Catalogue by Robert Kroetsch
- Questions i asked my mother by Di Brandt and four others
All of these are noteworthy and inspiring, but my favourite one, and one that has most influenced my approach to writing is NOX by Anne Carson. I haven't space to describe its many unique and unconventional characteristics, but if you'd like to investigate it further, Google and Youtube have many articles about it.
One liberating factor is that the pages of NOX are not just filled with printed text. They include photocopies of poetry, prose, word definitions, single-line-on-a-page statements, images, bits and scraps of letters and envelopes, smudges and even some long-hand writing. Carson's technique inspires endless possibilities, and this freedom seems to alleviate writer's block for me. I may not use all the ideas, maybe not even more than one, but knowing I can seems to open the creative gate.
I think it was the author's random-but-ordered style that intrigued me most. Here's what I learned: You don't have to start at the beginning. I can't express how this opened the way for me to explore other options in my own writing process. Start anywhere, organize and compile later. What a refreshing discovery! If I have a thought, I don't have to write it down to save for a later chapter or paragraph. I can write it now, expand on it in the moment when the inspiration is fresh and powerful. It'll all come together when it's time.
I'm grateful for the Multi-genre, Multimedia . . . I think you know where I'm going with this. It broadened my vision to get a head start on a writing project I've wanted to do for a long time. Why not give this genre a try?
NOX by Anne Carson