About the Poems
by Ken Rumble
These poems are all part of a manuscript that is tentatively titled Life is Not Whatnot. The title is a line that Molly Ringwald's character delivers in the John Hughes film 16 Candles. That movie, and the thought that the poems in the manuscript somehow respond to the movie, has guided the writing of these poems. In some ways, I'm trying to figure out if I think life is or is not whatnot. I don't think the movie knows either.
As for the process of the poems, I wanted sound to be the generative impulse behind the movement from line to line, word to word. I didn't want to tell a story; I didn't want to highlight a first person speaker; I didn't want to have a subject, for the poems to be "about" something. I did want to bring human beings into the poems, but I wanted them to be archetypal in a way, so I named them, typically, by their job or station.
I also wanted the poem to move associatively. If I had the word "drive" in one line in reference to a car, then I would use the word "club" as in golf in another line later, while also hoping the connections to "The Club" would echo around in there somehow too.
I was operating under the assumption that if I put enough things into the poem that my impulse to make poems that didn't "mean" anything would be confounded. I believe our impulse to create narratives is almost impossible to subvert. Given three (two, one?) objects, words, pictures, we will create a story from them (or at least can.) No matter how odd, unlikely the juxtapositions, sense arrives on cue.
I helped its arrival by returning to earlier images (slightly altered) at the ends of the poems.
The other thing was that I wanted to write poems that were funny. To me, most of these poems are hilarious. I don't know if other people will find them so, but sometimes I laugh outloud reading them.
Finally, these are also almost all love poems, the first love poems I think I've ever written.