Monday, April 3, 2023


In the United States, April is National Poetry Month. Some poets outside the United States celebrate it too, writing a poem a day until the end of the month. It's a great way for friends-in-poetry to get together, hunker down and write poems together. It's also a good way to jumpstart a daily practice of writing (may-be-poems). 

This year, I've decided to join the rest as a way of finishing the creative component of the dissertation. I've come up with a list of subjects that would fit into my project: fifteen items on a "conceptual list"; twenty on a "places" list.  The first list contains bar and non-bar subjects that students are required to take in law school. The second list contains places associated with legal enforcement and adjudication. 

Everyday, I go through a bunch of poems that are about any of the following:

- lawyers and judges
- non-lawyers' encounter with the legal system
- historical trials
- prison
- legal concepts
- the application of legal metaphors to non-legal subjects (mostly, romantic love).

By "going through" a bunch of poems, I mean encoding each of what I read in a computer file. I find the process to be a bit like throwing a line with a bait into the ocean.  Once something bites, I begin writing.

My goal is to write a minimum of 14 lines--without necessarily having the 14 lines develop into a sonnet--daily. I try to keep in mind that the language of law as I know it fails--as all language fails. And so when I write "about" the law in poetic form, I think about what it is that legal language fails to say, and then attempt to say that as directly and precisely as one can do through a poem. Poems, too, can't say everything. So it helps to clarify my intentions and make it just this, at the moment.

Thus far, I've been able to write two out of three days in April. Today's work begins with the line, "Comes now the time to say things plainly." If the diction sounds archaic--well, it is meant to be so. They're words some attorneys use to begin their pleadings ("Comes now the plaintiff unto this Honorable Court."). This poem fulfills the requirement that I come up with a poem that on a procedural law concept. In this case, the concept is that of a "real party in interest." I suppose it is more accurate to say that the poem plays off  the concept. It isn't really about the concept as much as it uses it to talk about how the law operates. Or at least that's what I intend it to do. One can hope.

The other April poem was about law school welcome rites. 

Considering that I'm also doing quite a bit of archival research, I'm happy. 

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