It is not as often as I would like that I am inspired to return to my ongoing interest in experimental poetry. Despite its obvious shortcomings, I am drawn to this genre because of its potential for a uniquely inclusive DIY approach to creative writing. I have, for instance, used the technique, as loosely outlined by Tristan Tzara in How to Write a Dadaist Poem, with young people in low-income communities. This latest application involves an even simpler recipe.
- Access Merriam-Webster’s time-traveler app at https://www.merriam-webster.com/time-traveler This provides a list of words appearing for the first time in print for each year going back to the early 16th century.
- Find the list of words for the year of your birth (or any other year significant to you)
- Read the words and pick out ones that strike you as interesting or amusing
- Arrange the selected words in alphabetical (or some other) order. Add line breaks and punctuation marks according to taste.
The result is a kind of troubling horoscope.
Here is mine for the year 1964. Happy New Year to all my readers!
1964 Birth Year Words Poem
Barf bag, BASIC, black hole, choke hold,
condo, crash cart, deep structure,
dolly bird, drink-driving endangered,
fentanyl, folkie, function key, fuzzy set,
garage sale, gender identity, glossophobia,
golden handcuffs, grandparenting, graphic novel,
grotty gun control,
high technology, holography, homophobia,
identity theft, Indy car, in-joke,
intrauterine device, minicam, miracle fruit,
multi-user new math, ninja no-kill, nonproliferation,
off-the-rack pants suit, paradoxical sleep,
precooked, programmed cell death,
pseudo, quark, quasar, quasi-stellar object,
remaster reverse discrimination,
semipornographic ska skinny-dip,
slow-wave sleep snowmobiling soundscape,
streaking, sucker punch, surface structure,
table sugar, talking head, time frame,
transformationalist triple jump triumphalism,
worst-case X-ray star zip-code.