Pareidolia and poetry

I thought I would share my thesis proposal, originally written in spring 2013.

The thesis shall be a poetry manuscript, titled “Pareidolia has landed.”  The manuscript will contain various explorations into constraint-based poetry, including erasures and other author-created constraints.  The emphasis, therefore, shall be that the methods of poetry-making are just as significant as the resulting work itself.

These concepts call into question the norms of the typical (non-consciously-constraint-based) writing process, in which a poem is offered to a reader with an implicit understanding that the poem was written in a “normative” manner.  My point is, every poem in existence had a method and constraint, however or whatever its process may have been.  When this method is disclosed to the reader, some of the “mystery” of the poem’s origin is lessened, but ultimately this disclosure invites more questions and thought from the reader: what is the value of this process, can I judge the value of this process, why use this process instead of another, why not use a simpler process, why not use a more difficult one….  I have seen such reactions in workshop when a poem includes a note on its method.

Process is inherent in writing, and my manuscript will make this fact explicit.

Pareidolia—a phenomenon of perceiving a vague or random stimulus as significant—is essential to this work.  My constraints include using a source text in generating a poem, and while the constraints are strict, they still leave room for me to decide what is and is not significant in the source text for utilizing in my poem; thus, my process involves pareidolia.  The resulting work itself also offers pareidolia to the reader, such as finding signification in what I juxtapose—indeed, reading poetry itself is a process of reading signs.  Explicitly providing the writing process for the reader to take note of also is a form of offering pareidolia.

Pareidolia is inherent in poetry, and my manuscript will not deny this; it engages with pareidolia.

In sum, this manuscript is openly based on calling attention to two inherent and yet typically unexamined necessities for poetry: method and pareidolia.