Friday, September 23, 2011

Cut-ups, Cross-outs & Ransom Notes

I got this crazy idea, at least for someone like me with my ADD,  to join the creative people who are part of the ... "make something everyday for 365 days and change you life!"  or as Noah Scalin the author of the book  "A Daily Creative Journal 365"  were I got this idea from calls it,  a "creative marathon" ... yiks!!!.

The basics are:

1) making an original creation every day gives you an incredible sense of accomplishment (to see what all these creative people are doing ... click on the 365 blog link) 

2) it forces you to push beyond your mental and physical barriers (especially the ones you're erected yourself)  ... or nature erected for you :-)

3) you'll be amazed at what you produce and what you learn about yourself in the process. (this is what I'm looking forward to)

He recommends you start simple and work on your project in small incremental steps.  Working a day at a time so as not to get in over-your-head by thinking to far out.

A basic premise ... "A daily project is all about the rules you make for yourself, and there is no punishment for breaking the rules."

Check-out his book for more information, inspiration and ideas to start your own project if you what to give it a go. Click this link or the 365 logo to be taken to his blog and information on his books.

Briefly my project is call "A Sense of Place A Sense of Home".

The title of this post "Cut-ups, Cross-outs & Ransom Notes" is from a chapter title in a book by Steve Kowit's  "In the Palm of your Hand - The Poet's Portable Workshop." These are three methods for creating a poem.  I plan to start with the "Cross-out/White-out" method first, then possibly move onto the other two and others as my journey progresses.  At a later date I will provide a complete explanation for the "Cut-up, Cross-out and Ransom Notes" methods in case you would like to try them for yourself.

The method I'm going to start with and alter a little bit (I'm making the rules for this project :-) - Cross-out/White-out:

1) you need a newspaper, periodical etc. & a dark pen (felt-tip is good) or white-out ... I'm sticking with the pen

2) you circle words and phrases in the text that speak to you, then cross-out or "white-out" all the text not circled

3) with the words & phrases you have gathered make your poem.

My project and my journey is to create these poems using the paper & periodicals from my hometown, Sacramento, Ca.

I left Sacramento over 50 years ago when I was about ten years old. For many years I have lived in Southern Ca. over 500 miles away from my hometown.  For what ever reason Sacramento, that place and that area, still has a pull on me and it's imprint goes very deep.  Northern California is very different from Southern California and maybe that will come out in these poems.  I like both places, but I just don't feel rooted here in the Southland.  So I'm going to be very interested & curious to see what I can discover through these poems about my hometown as it is now,  maybe a little about the pass and hopefully I'll learn something about me during this journey.  I'm looking forward to the adventure with this project and I hope I can keep this up for the next 365 days.

I think that's it for now. Check in every now & then if you like.  And I'll see you down the road.

Take care & Thanks,  Steve

Day one & it's the beginning of the Fall Season today,  let the journey begin!

P.S.  through out Noah Scalin book, you are giving a "bonus" for doing extra things like illustrating you work ... so I will be making illustrations & photos when I can.


  1. Hello Steve! I just found your blog from Cerulean's Blog List and I'm very happy I did. Your 365 day 'A Sense of Place, A Sense of Home' project sounds so interesting from what you've explained. Go for it! I will stop by to see what you're creating.

    You have some amazing posts here and some wonderful links.

    And I fed the fish! Very cool! Thank you.

  2. Thank you Sharon, I appreciate your comment and encouragement. I'm a big admirer of Cerulean's Blog too. The fish look Happy!

  3. Wow Steve! I just saw your first 3 poems and 3 art pieces. Great beginnings! I get a sense of how the 'cross-out' works but your handling of it is masterful. I really like what you've created - you've set the bar high! This work is delightful.

    (Is this the right place to comment on these pieces? I don't see a comment area connected to them.)

  4. Thank you, Sharon. It helps when you can choose words that were first selected by a writer. Then "collage" (which is the term Steve Kowit, who's book I mention in post, uses to describe part of the process) to "eke out" (not certain this is the right term) these poems. As to comments, yes this is a good place to comment. It's blogger "operator" error here. I had some filter on (though I was unaware of this) that required I review comments first before they would post. I have fixed that I think, still working on how to show ... as I told my cousin my world is getting a little too digitized I crave the analog sometimes :-)

  5. Hello Steve, back again to see what's new (and feed the fish!) Yes, I agree totally about life getting a little too digitized...analog certainly has more warmth. I'm happy to comment in this box. I can't seem to leave a comment where your poems are - no problem, this works.

    And I'm enjoying all the poems - and the connected art pieces. They are wonderful and really do create a Sense of Home, where ever that place is. You've captured something so genuine that I've smiled, laughed, got really hungry for a great slice of Pizza, and wondered about pinwheels - they are appearing here too now, and always bring back delightful childhood memories when I see them, growing in areas like they are flower beds.

    Your artwork relates so well to the poems and is quite joyous. Even the Apology (Poster?)! which I think is fantastic, along with the pinwheel piece. And the 1/2 L for Luigi!

    I'm really loving this. Great work!

  6. Thank you Sharon, sorry for the late reply. For some reason my first reply did not post. I deeply appreciate your words, observations, insights and impressions. It feels great that the poems and the artworks are expressing this sense of place and home I'm trying to find & reveal. I'm learning, experiencing and feeling new things as this journey moves on each day. I'm still sort of letting this thing unfold on it's own, letting it give it's own shape, form and direction. So I'll be interested in how it will look down the road. I really enjoy doing the artwork, though I'm still waiting to see if I will continue illustrate each poem or occasionally do that. I would prefer doing each one, but time may work against me :-) This is a new adventure for me, so I'll see were it takes me. Next time I'm up north, I can't wait to go to Luigi's! :-)

  7. Hi Steve,

    Really like your poems. To me some of them have the feel of a haiku but without the strict structure. I doubt that you can have a haiku without the structure, so I guess that's just me.

    I'll be checkin' back.


  8. Hey Willie, thanks for the comment and insight! They do have a haiku feel. I went through a few quickly:

    wet winter, mild summer
    planting delayed
    rice crops mature slowly

    I'm not a trained poet, so structure I'm sure is off. I may learn and use that form down the road as this journey unfolds since it seems to be a form right for how I'm trying to express this place. As I told Sharon, I'm sort of letting the "place" do the talking and hopefully I'm sensitive enough to pick-up and expressing what I'm feeling and it what it's saying.

    Thanks for your insights and comments, always open for more if you get the urge :-)

  9. Steve, I love the idea. I look forward to seeing more. It's about time you shared this stuff with the rest of us. denny l.

  10. Amigo, were have you been ... more like were have I been? :-) Thanks. It's been interesting doing this for a lot of reasons, still have a some bugs to work-out (i.e. when I'm out & about), but enjoying the journey. What's been most interesting is to see what comes out, I never now until I get at it, both poems & pics. It has cuts into my studio time and projects, but in the long run I think it will be worth it. I was talking to Grace via Facebook a week or so ago & said we all need together. I may try to be on train next week just to hang with you guys. I've been usually going downtown on Wed. I 'll send you an email. Say "yo" to Stephanie & little Evan ... later!

  11. WOW! I am blown away by your project! I'm sorry I missed days 1 thru 7. I can see the drawings but not the poems :) My favorites so far are days 15 and 13. No explanations needed I'm sure. I'm going to "subscribe" to your blog, whatever that means. I hope it means I won't be missing anymore of your 365 days, which now only has 350 days left in it. This reminds me of that project Julie wanted you to do awhile back only even more challenging. I'm so glad you've entered into your 3rd act-it's sure to be the best act ever. You keep creating and I'll keep traveling and then we'll switch. Take Care Roomie, Love, KJ

  12. Thanks and you got a deal ... what's your hubby going to do in this adventure ... never mind he we know his passion and a good one at that :-) If you click on the list of poems upper left all the poems are there. As this is still a work in progress I'm still tweaking. I just add the illustrations to the past poems, so we'll see how that goes ... a lot of technical stuff keeps popping up and getting in my way. :-)