The assignment: Draft a poem outside your normal tone.
So far, I have come up with three drafts. I usually write on the more serious, exploratory side, so I’ve been trying to imbue a sense of humor, or dark humor in response to this assignment. I would love to be able to write poems like Tony Hoagland or Dean Young or Billy Collins: filled with a striking insight and humorous tone. So I’m attempting to write one.
I think, of the three drafts, two have been only slightly outside my normal tone. Which I don’t really know how to describe right now. I said serious. By exploratory I meant seeking. Seeking place, definition, the self. Sometimes I think it’s a little didactic, and I try to revise with an eye toward reducing that quality. People don’t want to read it.
I have written poems with a humorous tone before. They tend more toward light verse (think Ogden Nash) than other types of humor. Writing outside of habitual tone is difficult, though. It’s like thinking different, and I think I have more work to do to get there.