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Ordinary Genius: Book Club Announcement


You could say I’m playing around with writing a sonnet today, as long as your definition of “playing around” is broad enough to include tapping aimlessly on my desk to The Guess Who’s Bus Rider.  Our Canadian columnist Matthew Kreider loaned me one of his famous Ticonderoga pencils this weekend. It keeps a terrific desktop 70s beat, but writes terrible iambic pentameter. (Don’t tell Matthew.)

The truth? I’m off the bus and riding the rails to a quatrain wreck.

That makes it a perfect time to announce our upcoming Tweetspeak book club: Ordinary Genius: A Guide for the Poet Within, by Kim Addonizio. Ordinary Genius is an invitation to explore your world through poetry — in a very hands-on way.

You’ll find ideas for making poems — a lot of them. Not every idea here is going to work for everyone, but there are some that will turn you sideways, jolt you into something completely unexpected, and keep you up nights. Some of the exercises are also aimed at leading you toward experiencing poetry in all its forms, rather than toward poems as end products. Poems aren’t products, anyway. Poems are what you make when you experience life in a certain way. Alive to yourself in the world, observant of inner and outer reality, and connected to language. (Kim Addonizio, Ordinary Genius, p. 14)

Beginning Wednesday, September 26, we’ll read poetry together, and write poetry together. By the time we get to chapter 29, we’ll read the words Write a Sonnet without sweat beading on our brow.

Come, with your chewed-up Ticonderoga or fancy Montblanc pen. Beginner like me, or longtime poet. By bus or train or Radio Flyer wagon. Make poems with us.

For September 26, read Part 1, Entering Poetry, and try to do a few of the exercises. 


To learn more about Ordinary Genius, view the book trailer:

Photo by Thomas Hawk, Creative Commons license via Flickr. Post by LW Lindquist.


Purchase The Novelist, by L.L. Barkat now!

Your Comments

16 Comments so far

  1. L. L. Barkat says:

    Can I come by pink motorcycle? Tweetspeak has one of those, I hear ;-)

    Very amusing, Lyla. If you just write about *writing poems* the whole time we do this book, that would be entertainment enough :)

  2. So you know, Lyla, Ticonderoga does offer a pink pencil (special edition!) to match your stilettos. :)

  3. Lyla, have you ever read Christopher Paul Curtis’ book “Bud, Not Buddy”? You will never look at a Ticonderoga pencil the same way again.

  4. No ordinary genius

    can keep her pencils
    tapping a ’70s beat aimlessly

    for our Canadian columnist.
    He’s very hands-on,

    terrific at playing around
    with something unexpected,

    always wanting to keep you
    up nights, experiencing

    poetry alive, in all its forms.
    No ordinary genius pencils

    a sonnet sideways, then announces
    today is the perfect time

    to make you write the truth
    in iambic pentameter, off

    the bus and riding the rails.
    An invitation to explore keeps

    you together, in a certain way,
    book-club observant of the inner

    and outer quatrain of reality
    without sweat beading on the brow.

    A beginner, like me, exercises
    the poet within; that longtime writer

    Barkat goes for a stretch in pink.
    Poems aren’t products, poems aren’t

    language chewed up, Kim makes
    clear. Some can make you famous,

    if you’re no ordinary genius.

  5. Lane Arnold says:

    Ordinary Genius
    I hope will help me
    as I’m
    Entering Poetry
    to join my
    Inner and Outer Worlds
    so that
    The Poem’s Progress
    will bring the poet in me
    Toward Mastery
    of the Genius in me
    that is really ordinary
    become extraordinarily poetic.

    What chapters are we to read by September 26?


    • Lane, so glad to see you’ll be joining us. :)

      Great question — I’ll update the post as I neglected to include that. Let’s plan for the first section – Entering Poetry. I haven’t decided if we’ll do 4 or 6 weeks, so we might not tackle it all that first week, but may as well shoot for it since we’re a couple of weeks out yet.

  6. DEEP breath…I’m in. Shakin’ in my boots. But your timing really sucks – that’s the weekend at Laity… Oh well, I may have to lay out at the beginning…

    • You know, Diana, that thought crossed my mind just yesterday.

      But you can still come along, even if you aren’t able to get in and share with us the first week. You might even find a few minutes while you rest at Laity Lodge to try a few exercises. ;)

      I am so happy you’re going to do this with us. I think it’s going to be good fun — and far less angst than Julia. This is fun work. She quotes Lamott in the intro, calling writing “happy work, as gratifying as sex or hard laughter or love or good drugs.” We can skip the drugs, but find it good, happy work. :)

  7. Lyla,

    You are tempting me with your writing to join…I’m glad you mentioned beginners…Thanks :)


  1. This Week’s Top Ten Poetic Picks | TweetSpeak Poetry - September 6, 2012

    [...] for the grueling Poet Laureate Primary season, I’m definitely taking part in the upcoming Tweetspeak book club. We’re reading and writing our way through Kim Addonizio’s Ordinary Genius: A Guide [...]

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