Here’s the second offering in my found poetry project on Ulysses by James Joyce. I’m picking a word from each page in the book and creating poems from them — about 50 words per poem. The first poem ended on page 50, which ends Part I of the book, then a blank page and a page introduces Part II. That’s why this second poem starts on page 53.
I’m enjoying the word collecting, like picking shells from a beach. Joyce was creative with words, shoving some together without hyphens.
Curiously Warmbubbled Paper (Ulysses, pages 53-108) by Dave Williams
“It celebrates Thursday 16 June 1904, which is the day depicted in James Joyce’s novel Ulysses. The day is named after Leopold Bloom, the central character in Ulysses. The novel follows the life and thoughts of Leopold Bloom and a host of other characters – real and fictional – from 8am on 16 June 1904 through to the early hours of the following morning.” — The James Joyce Centre
Several years ago, I started reading Ulysses, but only made it to page 72 (out of 732). I wasn’t in the right frame of mind for the novel.
Now, though, I’m revisiting the book with a project inspired by the idea of found poetry. I will pick a word from each page and assemble them into poems. Each poem will have about 50 words. That word count may change as the project progresses.
Partly, I’m doing this project to experience this book in a different way. Something more active than reading the book and envisioning the characters going about their day. Writing the first poem felt playful and absurd.
Also partly, I’m doing this project to discover some of Joyce’s words. According to Professor Cóilín Owens (Professor Emeritus of English Literature at George Mason University), Ulysses contains “something like 90,000 different words.” Not total words, but individual words. That’s mind-blowing to me. Professor Owens mentioned the tidbit in his presentation at the Great Big Book Club Meeting in Maryland.
What better day than Bloomsday to kick off this project? I’ll be posting a Ulysses poem each day until I reach the end of the book (page 732). I’m using the Dover edition, which claims to be “an unabridged republication of the original Shakespeare and Company edition, published in Paris by Sylvia Beach, 1922.”
Awaking Panther (Ulysses, pages 3-50) by Dave Williams
Every package of popcorn kernels has a leader, a hardened and gruff Colonel Kernel, who— as the package nears a microwave or stovetop— growls at the others, “This is what we’ve trained for, folks. It’s about to get real hot, and every single one of yous better pop!pop!pop! or you’ll be a disappointment to this battalion.”
Just a minute ago, there was a rhinoceros standing near me at this bus stop, and he (or she) told me that she (or he) thought compassion and empathy would make the world a better place, and he (or she) added, “But what do I know? I’m only a rhino.” Then walked away.