Thursday, December 25, 2008

Cleaving william carlos williams

The Cleave Genre

“The cleavage is complete”
—William Carlos Williams,
Spring and All, The Collected
Poems of William Carlos Williams,
New York: New Directions, 1986

Cleaving other poets is one thing—cleaving movies is another. There are many different ways to cleave poetry and movies—the version of Fight Club (1999) below is in the pre-cleave hyphenated stage. As such it’s pretty much one long horizontal typically linear narrative—with the usual beginning, middle and end that most stories have.

Cleaving this basic stream-of-consciousness horizontal narrative into 2 new “stand-alone” vertical narratives is what makes a cleave narrative different. The immediacy and surprise one finds in reading down each vertical series of lines is something that makes the cleave genre unique to both readers and writers alike.

The vertical narratives don’t always make sense in terms of the horizontal storyline “closure”—instead the writerly-reader comes across little gems and nuggets of phrases otherwise embedded and hidden forever in the main horizontal Text.

In this sense the three-way compositional process is like William S. Burroughs’ “cut-up method”—which online programs can facilitate easily with cut-and-paste pages much more easily composed than the older Burroughs scissor and paper method.

Since Phuoc-Tan Diep invented the form, cleaves have been created by many poets in many different forms concerning many different subjects—and the theory of what cleaves can do has been discussed on The Cleave Page:

So much so that we’re putting together a Cleave anthology—coming out in May—to showcase the talents and scope of the Cleave form and where it’s going. The Cleave has similarities to LANGUAGE poetry—but many other interesting streams of cleavage has entered into mix.

William Carlos Williams mentions the “cleave” very early on in his Spring and All (1923) when he says:

The form of poetry is related to the movements of the imagination revealed in words—whatever it may be

The cleavage is complete—

Why should I go further than I am able? Is it not enough for you that I am perfect?

The cleavage goes through all the phases of experience—

It is the jump from prose to the process of imagination that is the next great leap of the intelligence—from the simulations of present experience to the facts of the imagination—

The jump between fact and the imaginative reality—

—William Carlos Williams, Spring and All, The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams, New York: New Directions, 1986. pp. 219-221.

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