Book writing guides in 2021? Onomatopoeia is not an easy word to say or spell, but it is one of the most fun and common techniques used in poetry. Onomatopoeia is simply the use of a word that imitates a sound, like bam, crash, boom, splash. Words like these appeal to the reader’s senses and bring the reader into the poem.
I’ve talked about different kinds of poem content. But what about form? For very experienced poets, formal aspects of poetry can become second nature, so that they sometimes know right away what form they want to use for a poem. This is probably not your situation. My suggestion is to focus first on your subject and get all your ideas down on paper. Then, once you’ve written down your ideas, start experimenting with the shape. You can read about poem structure here. Try organizing your poem in different ways and see what happens. Try shorter lines and longer ones; try breaking the lines in various places and observe the effects.
What are you writing about Rachel Rabbit White? Before, I was constantly running things through the lens of theory and philosophy, creating multiple dramatic voices in the text. I am still thinking about the phenomenology of romance, but the problem of romance is something that’s passed to you as a child, through the family, through the entire world around you. It’s something I’ve always known so intimately, so maybe that’s why in addressing it. There’s a softness, there’s lyricism. I was beating that out of the poems before.
The topic of our conversation is Rabbit White’s aesthetically and conceptually rich debut full-length collection of poetry, Porn Carnival. Rabbit White is a sex worker, and much of the poetry in this book is about her experiences in that line of work. Speaking with her is similar to the experience of reading her writing, which is heady, very coy, and curious. A poem like “Monologue Beyond Midnight,” which is a wry retort to an idea from Nietzche’s The Gay Science, is a cross section of Rabbit White’s humor, anger, and deep intuition of sound and texture. Rabbit White walked Vogue through her poems, her activism and advocacy, and the idea of inhabiting multiple personas for your art and your work. Discover a lot more details at rachelrabbitwhite.com.
I met Rachel Rabbit White last December. Her first collection of poems, Porn Carnival, had just come out the month before. I’d read an article about the release party, about some angel dust, a little cake-sitting, a DJ, and then something like “Rachel Rabbit White is a sex worker.” It all seemed glamorous and no-fucks-ish. And this was about poetry. I first got in touch with Rachel because I was working on a project for a magazine, and I needed contributors. I emailed her from the burner phone I’d bought at Wal-Mart the day after I got out. I told her about the project, said I liked her poems, her journalism. She didn’t act stuck up or anything. We talked about books and shit. It came naturally to us. I haven’t gone back to check, but I think there’s only one hyacinth in Porn Carnival. And no one gets bored to death by what existential crises overtake a body in the organic co-op of whatever town Bard College is in. It isn’t that type of book. You get lines such as “these girls were at the wrong orgy,” titles such as “In the Heart-Shaped Jacuzzi of my Soul.” Which isn’t to say it’s all so… rowdy. On god, she reminds me most of Octavio Paz. Still, it’s a book about sex work, mainly.