This fall people worry about clowns in the woods. The evil clown image can be found in Dickens’ Pickwick Papers, but Stephen King’s Pennywise from It gets most of the blame these days. The Master of Horrors can hardly complain; he knows what scares people, and he’s good at what he does.
I’m a fan of King, the person at least as much as the writer. He’s from my home state, cares deeply about the regional politics, and uses his platform to speak to them. I think his jokes are funny because they employ the flat affect and dry humor of my childhood. I recognize Bangor and Durham and Auburn in his writing, hear the patois of inland Maine that makes his dialogue go on pages longer than you think it needs to (there’s an audio version of Dreamcatcher which is read with a genuine Maine accent – it’s a treasure). When I drive my son to and from summer camp, we pass the King family orchard in Sweden, which is strewn with netting to keep the birds off the highbush blueberries.
King is a bit skeptical about lyric poetry. In his memoir On Writing, King looks askance at the language based ars poetica of 1969. That hasn’t stopped a generous handful of poets (who also happen to be his fans) from celebrating his work by writing poetry that he may or may not appreciate. For the month of October, 56 poets are teaming up to create a found poem a day from each of his 56 fiction novels – an undertaking called THE POEMING. Fearless leaders E. Kristin Anderson, Sarah Nichols, and Sara Adams manage to coordinate Tumblrs with names like “dialmformisery”, “cujoetry”, “mercedesmassacre”, and “terzascreamer”. King’s everyman storytelling is torn apart, ripped up, blacked out, and reassembled (maybe he would like it after all). Christine, Pet Sematary, Salem’s Lot, and The Shining are reimagined as centos, pastiche, and erasures – some quite striking. Here’s a sample from Sarah J Sloat’s “Remaking Misery” –
Many of the poems which are most interesting manage to veer wildly from King’s original works, weirding the language of an altogether weird writer. David Elzey reimagines mined text from The Cell as a series of abstracted cantos –
a happy dream
a cheering crowd
in the dark
the night still may be ours
but the days belong to fools
weaving their nets
hot and ticklish
to say goodbye
a fixed moment
a single small spark in the black
then it was gone
the darkness – complete
an unsteady, tearful sound
King, Stephen. Cell. New York: Pocket Star, 2006. Print. pp. 332-336.
It’s a fun way to lead up to Halloween, celebrating social media, found poetry, and a pop culture icon. Happy POEMING, you ghouls!
Selected poems and links to all THE POEMING Tumblrs can be found at http://thepoeming2016.tumblr.com/