A mesostic approach

Sequencing poems for each 60-minute Wordsalad program has always been fun, and today is no different. My guiding principle was a mesostic.

You know that, in an acrostic, the first letter of each line of text spells out a word or series of words: You scan down the lines and a phrase appears. I sequenced today’s Wordsalad program using a mesostic, where the phrase in question appears not at the beginning of a line, but in the middle. To compose a mesostic, you choose a word or phrase, then read through a text, looking for words containing the letter you seek, in strict sequence. Then you transcribe the word containing that letter.

Today I chose the word poetry. My ‘text’ was the spines of my shelved poetry CDs. They’re arranged by poets’ last names, and compilations follow separately. To begin, I selected the first CD beginning with the letter P–in my case, Paul Austerlitz. The second CD had to have the letter O as the second letter–Robert Frost. The third had to have the letter E as the third letter, and so forth. Here’s how things fell out:

Paul austerlitz
rObert frost
leE ann brown
rusTy russell
poetRy speaks 1
poetrY speaks 2

Poetry speaks 3
pOetry in motion
piErs plowright
matT dalby
pierRe joris
rodneY koeneke

Philip levine
hOa nguyen
poEsia Sonora
flaTus vocal trio
peteR gizzi
melodY sumner carnahan

The next step was to choose individual tracks. That was guided (a little loosely) by searching for poem titles including the letter in question. It will be interesting to see what, if any, difference appears as the program unfolds in real time. I have not yet heard the entire program as sequenced.

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