New Diagnosis: A Growing List of Co-Morbidities (Cento)

I don't know what people mean
by talking about talking about it,
fractal rage lost in translation, hands folded in prayer.

You try to root in the world, but events sizzle—
your helpless body unable,
listing like a boat, keel side up
on the swirling rag carpet.

I want to live. I like it here. I like living here with what I have. This apartment
to untwist from.
Imagine a piano lit on fire and pushed off a roof.

With feeling, the notes must tear & tear
in the madness, and me with my tall can of iced beer, leaning
straight to the butterfly in a child's throat;

beautiful his throat his words    even more beautiful
to exist. They whirl in circles
like a funnel of hornets.
This is the reward.

Pam Sinicrope

3 Questions for Pam

What was your process for creating this work? What is the significance of the forms/genres you chose? What is the significance of this work to you?

All of these poems are significant to me on a personal level. I have Rheumatoid Arthritis and am a patient advocate and researcher in this area. I have been writing poems on this topic over the past several years. I am also very intrigued by the visual aspects of poetry and have been researching the shape and visual structure of poetry and experimenting to see how I can use the visual aspects to enhance meaning. One thing I love about hybrid poetry is that it nods to convention, but also pushes beyond it, which is a great place to find oneself when trying to be creative and empowering. It is my hope that this work amplifies the voices of people who live with chronic illnesses, such as Rheumatoid Arthritis.

My writing process varied for each poem. Generally, I started with journaling and research. Then I just tried to get down the words for the poem.  After that, I started thinking about lineation, shape, and form. I also considered the visual aspects and tried out different shapes or structures. Often, the right visual approach for a poem will lead me to further editing of its words and lineation, making the entire process iterative or cyclical.

For "Swan Neck Deformity," the shape of the poem recalls both the deformity which RA can cause as well as the idea of wings, which came after the writing. For the Cento, I started with a general idea, pulled some of my favorite poetry books off my shelf, and then identified compelling lines. I put the lines in order later. For the crossword poem, I started with a poem collage I had written where I just started writing poems into empty New York Times crosswords. I like the way this structure conveys the idea of fragmentation. For this poem, I used a crossword generator I found online.

Pam Sinicrope served as an editor for Howling Bird Press and is an MFA candidate at Augsburg University. She is a senior poetry editor for the new Journal, RockPaperPoem. Some of her poems are forthcoming or found in  Rogue Agent, SWWIM, Spillway, The Night Heron Barks, The Muse, Aethlon, Indolent Books, Literary Mama, 3 Elements Review, and Appalachian Journal. Pam lives in Rochester, MN. She has a doctorate in Public Health and engages in research to eliminate health disparities with a focus on cancer prevention. She enjoys time with her family, hiking with her dog, tennis, and independent films.

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