UMMA’s collection includes a silkscreen by Paul Rand titled Joseph Addison Poser-Laughter. Let’s use a line from Addison—“Man is distinguished from all other creatures by the faculty of laughter”—as a runway, of sorts, for some poetic flights. Our description of the Rand silkscreen compares its central figure to Lewis Carroll’s Cheshire Cat. Let’s write and share a few poems in the tradition of Lewis Carroll.
We especially have Carroll’s “Mad Gardener’s Song” form in mind, an example of which goes like this: “He thought he saw an Argument / That proved he was the Pope: / He looked again, and found it was / A Bar of Mottled Soap. / ‘A fact so dread,’ he faintly said, / ‘Extinguishes all hope!’”
These poems are easy to write, and great fun to hear out loud.
Cody Walker directs the U-M English Department’s Undergraduate Creative Writing Program and co-directs the Bear River Writers’ Conference. He’s the author of three poetry collections, including The Self-Styled No-Child (Waywiser Press, 2016). His work appears in The New York Times Magazine, Slate, and The Best American Poetry.