by Matthew Kosinski
This exercise works best with a poem that has stalled out in some way; a poem you’ve spent a considerable amount of time laboring over, ruminating on, and staring at, but which stubbornly refuses to move toward completion. Evasive poems — those whose proper shapes seem simultaneously always on the cusp of arriving and continuously receding from view — are particularly strong candidates.
Step 1: Meditate on the poem; try to clear your mind so that only the
poem inhabits your headspace.
Step 2: Shuffle the tarot deck; allow your poem to draw a card. Your
poem may not want to draw the top card; it may want to reach somewhere into the
middle of the deck. Listen to your poem.
Step 3: Reveal the poem’s chosen card. What is the poem announcing
about itself through this card? What aspects of the poem’s form and/or content
are articulated in this card?
Step 4: Invert your poem’s chosen card. What would it mean for the poem
to invert itself in a similar way? How would the poem’s form and/or content
change? Revise the poem, following the arc of its inversion.
Note: It is entirely possible that your poem will draw an
inverted card in step 3. In that case, the ritual proceeds as normal, but in
step 4 you will stand the poem’s card upright and revise the poem according to
the arc of its uprightness.