Cartography

map.jpgOne of my coworkers is a poet. Last week we assigned each other an assignment: to write a poem to be workshopped by the assigner on Monday. My assignment was to “write a muscular poem about masculinity.”


Cartography

A man is an old map
charted in sharp lines and lies;
where north is up and west is left
where puff-cheeked faces blow and fume
where grim Atlas crouches at the bottom;
bearing up his legend – the half-truth map
where mountains have no height
where water is not wet
and past its paper edges
there be monsters.


What follows is the text of the email I sent to her about what I was aiming for with this poem.

what i’m going for is to show that masculinity is not a complete defining concept for a man. like, a man is a three dimensional thing, but masculinity is only two dimensional. thus, the earth is three dimensional, but a map is only a two dimensional representation of it and therefore incomplete. i also wanted a feeling of implacability and turmoil and maybe even a dash of determination. i was also thinking about how dangerous it can be to be male and live trying to be ‘masculine’ only. to not give the other dimension of being a chance to assert itself. i guess this could be called the ‘feminine’ side, but i think femininity holds the same danger. masculine and feminine are just roles that people play, but we’re all just people in my mind.

i don’t know if this is ‘muscular’ or not, since i’ve only heard that used in your mouth, but i tried for my own feeling of solidity.

Feel more than free to workshop or comment on this as much as possible. And give me your own assignments if you want. I feel that, at this stage, I write better when I’ve been assigned something.

v.2

Cartography

A Man is like an old map charted
in sharp lines; a plotted thing —
where north is up and west is left
where puff-cheek faces blow and fume
where Atlas bears his legend — a land
where mountains have no height
where water is not wet
and past its paper edges
there be monsters.