Have you always wanted to read a sonnet about limestone? A sestina about sasquatch? Ryan is writing poems to your specification as part of his new project. He explains:
Commissioned Works by ryan fitzpatrick
My name is ryan fitzpatrick and I am a writer and poet based in Calgary. I would like you to consider commissioning a poem from me.
But first let me explain myself. About a year ago, I had two thoughts. The first is the question that every writer asks: “Why does no one care about literature?” Sometimes the answer is obvious: the writing in question is boring, pretentious, unfunny, difficult, meaningless (or too meaningful). Poetry gets the shortest end of this very short stick. At least a bad novel has a story to follow. With poetry, the language itself has to be rich and interesting and socially relevant. Maybe the problem with most poetry is that it doesn’t even know what this means.
The second thought I had was inspired by a couple friends of mine who were able to get some money together to put together an art project and the project they came up with was a community centre. I thought to myself, what a genius idea. If you want people to experience the art you’re producing, why not include them in the process of making it. That’s how, in my mind at least, Commissioned Works was born.
Commissioned Works is meant to be part study and part community outreach. What would happen if my own poetry was directed by people in the community, if the poems weren’t only directed by my interests and writing habits, but by the interests of others, especially people who don’t write?
What does this mean for you? If you agree to take part in this project, you will have several tasks. The first is to decide what kind of poem you would like to see in the world. What should it be about? It could be about anything, ranging from seemingly disparate things like NASCAR or horticulture or politics. What should the poem look like? Should it rhyme, be full of nonsense, tell a story, be written as a sonnet, etc. The possibilities are literally endless. And to be honest, it’s kind of frightening!
After you tell me what you’d like to see, I’ll go off and write a poem that I think matches your specifications. But what if you don’t like it? That’s the second step. I will bring the poem back to you and you’ll be able to give me feedback that I’ll use to make the poem better. You might be completely happy with the poem or you might want to see an entirely different poem written or you might only want some very specific changes. I will take whatever feedback you give into account to produce a final, polished version of the poem.
After I finish a second draft of the poem, that’ll be its final version, but I’ll give you another chance to express your feelings about it by filling out a feedback survey that will help give a rough statistical picture of the project as a whole.
After I finish the poem, you’ll be able to do whatever you’d like to with it. Email it to your friends and family, post it on your facebook page, or set it on fire. I would be able to take your poem, along with the poems of everyone else, to assemble into a manuscript that I could (hopefully) get published.
One condition: ryan will not write poems for other writers! That is cheating! But any non-writer is welcome to email ryan to discuss commissioning a poem. Pass this message along to anyone you feel might be interested, please. Ryan is a really good writer. If you don't want to take my word for it, read his book Fake Math. Then commission a poem. Or get your uncle, or grandma, or mail carrier to commission a poem. Help poetry happen!
Ryan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org