Calvino’s Sixth: The unwritten memo – consistency

A Consistent Inconsistency by Maria L. Berg

This week completes my study of Italo Calvino’s Six Memos for the Next Millennium. Calvino died before writing this final lecture in his series on values of literature. So I get to extrapolate from the other memos and imagine his ideas of consistency as a literary value.

I found Andrei Codrescu’s attempt to do just that: On Consistency: Italo Calvino’s Sixth Memo.

AND

In her article “Calvino’s Values in Literature” in The Journal of Educational Thought Vol. 24, No. 3A, Marylou Miner presents her belief that the sixth memo would explore harmonious structure explored in a musical sense. She also presents the image of consistency to be a circle or a wave.

Let’s start with the word “consistency.” It has two different meanings that could each be a value of literature:

  • a degree of density, firmness, viscosity, etc: the condition of cohering or holding together and retaining form; solidity or firmness

OR

  • steadfast adherence to the same principles, course, form, etc.: agreement, harmony, or compatibility, especially correspondence or uniformity among the parts of a complex thing

I had only been thinking of consistency in the latter definition before I looked it up. Now, I’m thinking of the viscosity of my images and the density of my images.

Yesterday I tried to explore consistency through staying in one place and only creating shapes with the light on the waves. I wasn’t excited with the results, but the practice with a focus on consistency led to exciting results today.

Using Marylou Miner’s ideas for forms, I pulled out all of my circular, spiral, and wavy filters and found some fun ideas for improvement.

An Inconsistent Consistency by Maria L. Berg 2022

ModPo

This is also the first week of ModPo, a free online introduction to modern and contemporary U.S. poetry offered year round through the Kelly Writers House at the University of Pennsylvania and Coursera.org. It is also a yearly ten-week symposium for poetry lovers. If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend it. I attended my first “office hours” session today and really enjoyed the discussion. The first live webcast to kick off this year’s symposium is Sept. 7 (tomorrow at noon) at 3PM Philadelphia time.

New Poem

For today’s Poetics prompt at dVerse Poets Pub, Mish challenges us to play with some unusual words.

In my aliferous dormiveglia

empyrean orenda arrives as
reflections upon late summer leaves, as
gleams in glittering eyes, as
glints upon the waves, pushing me
to querencia—a timeless space, an
ephemeral place—where
I am sustained by isolophilia.

My logolepsy borders on the obscene
in this foggy pause
as I wake from the dream.

It’s Not Easy to Eagle a Mergansered Verb to a Terrible Appointment

An eagle near the top of a fir tree surrounded by cones.
Big Screamy atop the fir tree – by Maria L. Berg 2021

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt is to write a response poem to another poem.

The PAD challenge is to write an appointments poem.

My Janus word for the A to Z Challenge is terrible which can mean formidable, or lousy.

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt inspired me to head over to ModPo on coursera to listen to and read some of the poems discussed there. In the resources section, I took a look at ModPo Plus (part 1) and found “Popcorn-can cover” by Lorine Niedecker.

Popcorn-can Cover by Lorine Niedecker.

In this succinct poem, Niedecker uses “mouse” as a verb which reminded me of Alana’s great rant poem the other day “Just saying” on Poem Dive.

I really love how Niedecker created this connection for me: an image of the cold, scritching and scratching a hole in the wall to squeeze its whiskered nose and furry body through. So for my response, I want to try a few of these to see if I can create some great imagery by turning a noun into a verb. Plus it will have to be a terrible verb that has an appointment. 😉

  1. Inflatable sea-turtle raft
    launched from the terrible,
    slippery ramp
    so she can
    merganser all day

  1. Glittered Seahawks flip-flops
    slipped under my soles
    to cover my delicate skin
    so those sneaky shards of glass
    from last winter’s storm
    can’t tiger-muskie in

  1. This shock gasp
    squished into a swimsuit
    has an appointment
    with the chilly water
    so the dread
    can’t eagle down