Patchwork Poetics

Anne Sullivan, Katie Farris, Maria Elena Margarella, Zehua Chen

You can read more about this work in the Electronic Literature Organization conference program found here. Further down this page are some examples of existing poems that we turned into quilt design, and in some cases created the quilted artifact.

But first, try it out! Enter your poem below and a design will be generated based on the underlying sound devices in the poem you create!


Prologue – Anne Bradstreet

Stanzas 5, 6, & 7

I am obnoxious to each carping tongue
Who says my hand a needle better fits.
A Poet’s Pen all scorn I should thus wrong,
For such despite they cast on female wits.
If what I do prove well, it won’t advance,
They’ll say it’s stol’n, or else it was by chance.

But sure the antique Greeks were far more mild,
Else of our Sex, why feigned they those nine
And poesy made Calliope’s own child?
So ‘mongst the rest they placed the Arts divine,
But this weak knot they will full soon untie.
The Greeks did nought but play the fools and lie.

Let Greeks be Greeks, and Women what they are.
Men have precedency and still excel;
It is but vain unjustly to wage war.
Men can do best, and Women know it well.
Preeminence in all and each is yours;
Yet grant some small acknowledgement of ours.

TrocheeIambPyrrhic FootSpondee

For this poem, we were looking primarily at rhyme, internal rhyme, and slant rhyme. Matching colors means rhymes were found in those syllables. Slant rhymes are represented by a lighter color. Matching colors means rhyme is found in that syllable.

Caedmon’s Hymn                             

a version by Katie Farris

Men, let’s praise        Paradise’s protector                         

the Measurer’s might            and Her worthy methods:                   

the work of the Glorymother           and her wonders wild! —             

Dogged Generator,    game from the get-go                                         

to pen a demesne      for her dames’ daughters                                       

with paradise as plaster,      O Poet-hustler!                                             

Hereupon, Humanity’s          Hale Defender                                             

(and Dogged Generator)       decorated, with dirt             

glorious, the globe.                O Great Mother!                                            

“Caedmon’s Hymn” is traditionally regarded as the oldest poem in English, and because of its age, it requires translation. Farris’s version of the poem stays true to the content of the original but replaces the “All-Father” with an “All-Mother,” and he/him/his to she/her/hers. This playful revision allows the audience to see this historic poem in a new light, bringing those who identify as women into a space traditionally occupied by men.

Old English poetry is characterized by three elements: four stressed syllables per line, three of which typically alliterate (i.e. begin with the same consonant sound), and a hard break in the middle of each line, called a caesura.

Each “petal” is a word. We indicated the pattern of alliteration with colored petals: for example, in line one, the words praise, Paradise, and protector are all scarlet. Grey petals indicate unstressed words. The placement of the caesurae are indicated by the reversed, quilted petals, which not colored to emphasize the idea of silence.

Blandeur – Kay Ryan

If it please God,   
let less happen.   
Even out Earth’s   
rondure, flatten   
Eiger, blanden
the Grand Canyon.
Make valleys
slightly higher,   
widen fissures   
to arable land,   
remand your
terrible glaciers   
and silence
their calving,   
halving or doubling
all geographical features   
toward the mean.
Unlean against our hearts.   
Withdraw your grandeur   
from these parts.

Sonnet 18 – William Shakespeare

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date;
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature’s changing course untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

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