March 1_Event Horizon poem

See Tupelo Press to read the poems for March 1, 2014 by scrolling down to “Day 1/Poems 1” and of course, to read my poem, A Found Poem Inside an Event Horizon ‘On This Day In History’ (March 1) / by John C. Mannone.

The backstory is as follows:

In deciding how to open this poetry marathon, I finally decided to be creative and have fun (there is plenty of time for more serious work). And in the process, I might introduce you to a new form of poetry.

As the title indicates, “A Found Poem Inside an Event Horizon ‘On This Day In History’ (March 1),” is a found poem. According to Found Poetry Review, a “found poem is the literary version of a collage.” A more detailed discussion is found there.

I began with a question: “Is there anything special about March 1, which could make an interesting prompt?” Well, it was raining while driving home in east Tennessee from an open mic, and I thought about “rain”—a flood of rain-related poem ideas emerged, but eventually all these ideas washed out (mostly because of cliché). So I turned to something else. I remembered about a trivia game at a local bar & grill where the emcee liked to test us with “this day in history.” When I got home, after midnight, I went to a history.com website to scavenge a prompt (the link is in the author’s note below the poem). I was fascinated by the plethora of events that had happened on the first of March from the 17th century to the present and I decided to order them chronologically. I noticed I could lift that list into a poem if I took advantage of line breaks, rearranged the event descriptions slightly for rhythm, and added a few words to act as connective tissue. (Typically one doesn’t add any words when writing a found poem, but I felt the variation was justified.)

The collage of events on the same day but different years in chronological order resulted in some interesting expressions. But I needed something to help the reader suspend belief in ignoring time (which I kept in parentheses). Since a few days earlier, as a guest lecturer and keynote speaker at a Colorado college, I had lectured on the frontiers of physics and astronomy, the subject of black holes was still on my mind. And therein lies the device I needed for the poem—the Event Horizon, beyond which no light (or matter) can escape.

Inside the Event Horizon, the roles of space and time are interchanged. On this side, we can move about in space as we please, but we cannot stop the flow of time. It marches on inexorably. But on the other side of that horizon, it is time in which we have freedom to perceive. Only it is our position that is limiting. It is space that inexorable advances to the singularity (allegedly) at the bottom of the black hole. Okay, I don’t want to turn this into a physics lecture; suffice it to say that we can imagine, albeit a bit abstract, that we are just inside the Event Horizon and all the events through time can be perceived at once. Well, you might say, that the events in the poem are scattered all over the globe and are not in one place. That’s true, it’s a super massive black hole (like the one in the center of our galaxy and in the epigraph) and poetic license will render our entire globe a minuscule point relatively speaking (pun intended). And so now you might understand why I chose the title as I did.

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