Another Pulitzer Project

What’s with the craze about the history of the Pulitzers?

Earlier this year, I reported on publisher Patricia D’Ascoli’s plan to compile an anthology of reviews of the Pulitzer prize winners in fiction, including Tarkington’s The Magnificent Ambersons and Alice Adams.

Then last month I wrote several times about “100 Years. 94 Books,” blogger Matt Kahn’s project to read and review every book to top the year’s best sellers list at Publisher’s Weekly since 1913… including Tarkington’s The Turmoil and Seventeen.

Well, the “list” craze continues… and this time a bunch of award-winning poets are at it. From the “Pulitzer Remix” site:

Eighty-five poets are creating found poetry from the 85 Pulitzer Prize-winning works of fiction as part of Pulitzer Remix, a 2013 National Poetry Month initiative. Each poet will post one poem per day on this website during the month of April, resulting in the creation of more than 2,500 poems by the project’s conclusion.

The project is sponsored by the Found Poetry Review, a literary journal dedicated exclusively to publishing found poetry. Found poems are the literary equivalents of collages, where words, phrases and lines from existing texts are refashioned into new poems. The genre includes centos, erasure poetry, cut-up poetry and other textual combinations.

Poet Michael Leong drew the lot for Alice Adams. Says Leong,

I’m appropriating the language of Booth Tarkington’s comedic novel of manners Alice Adams, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1922. I wasn’t familiar with the text (or the author) until just recently, but I wanted to read something  popular from the early 1920s–something that was filtered out of the high literary canon–to get a better sense of the aesthetic diversity of the era. … It’s interesting to think that, in 1921, someone (at least in New York) could read Tarkington’s easy-going realism in a serialized section of Alice Adams in the Pictorial Review and then go see a production of Susan Glaspell’s expressionist drama The Verge.

Alice Adams has been interesting to work with so far because of, among other things, the Midwestern vernacular of the characters.  The 17th word of dialogue in the book, uttered by Virgil Adams, the protagonist’s father, is “gumption.”

I’ll be recombining words and phrases from the text into some sort of collage. My edition of the novel is 434 pages so I figure if I parcel the book into 14-page sections, I’ll have 30 for next month.

You can visit the overview page for the Alice Adams poems here.

Cathryn Andresen drew The Magnificent Ambersons:

I wanted to read “Andersonville”  again – this time as an adult, but I was instead assigned “The Magnificent Ambersons”.  I knew I’d enjoy the challenge of finding 30 poems in 30 days  in any good novel as I don’t write 30 poems in a year!

“The Magnificent Ambersons” was unknown to me before this project.   It’s a  short, straight-forward, old-fashioned novel.  Working with it?  I believe finding 30 poems in a 700 page tome would have been easy by comparison.

I like my poetry to be visually appealing so I use lots of special spacing, which the WordPress text editor does not allow (without heroic efforts).   I also enjoy blocking out text to leave the words in the poem exposed, or taking a rich phrase from the novel and building a found poem around it.

I will complete this engaging project without regard to lost sleep and found Haagen Daz calories.

Andresen’s Ambersons poems are collected here.


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