You might be familiar with the process of paraphrasing a poem, i.e., you take a line from the poem and write it in your own words to express its meaning, bringing out its key elements. The criteria of a good paraphrase are as follows:
It is not a summary.
It does not contain most of the words or phrases from the original (plagiarism).
It includes all minor details from original.
The meaning of the writing is clearer to the reader than in the original text.
It restates the thesis.
It is usually longer than the original.
Partly inspired by Kenneth Goldsmith’s Uncreative Writing, while wary of the criticism levelled against his approach to treatment of subject matter and plagiarism, I have been trying out a different approach to paraphrasing.
In the following poems, I have sourced language from articles or books that I have read, and, in some cases, reports from a world disaster alert service, to craft the appearance of a poem. I have done this in a manner that a rhythm is allowed to come through, reinforced by line-breaks, and without being concerned with conveying the original message of the source language. I am subverting the message, most often, and that is where my role as a poet comes into play.
I selected some of the better outcomes and published them as a conceptual chapbook.
If you’re really curious, scroll down for the whole journey.
Violins (A Paraphrase)
a crude bomb went off in a coach
of a local train plying between
the Sealdah station in Kolkata
and Krishnanagar in North 24
all the injured victims have been taken
to a government hospital where some
are said to be in serious condition
Local TV channels reported
that the explosive device was hurled
by a criminal gang
on a rival gang
after an altercation
three miners died
while two others remain
trapped after the roof
of a coal mine shaft
in Yunnan province
31 miners were working
at the Dahai coal mine
in Qujing city
when the shaft
Twenty-six of them were able
to escape, but four
sustained minor injuries
and were taken
to a local hospital.
the search operation for the other two
dozens of people were killed and injured
when clashes broke out
between the Ma’alia and Rezeigat
tribes in East Darfur State
large numbers of gunmen from the Rezeigat
25 people from Ma’alia were killed
assailants used Katyusha
rockets and rocket-propelled
an eyewitness from Al Dein,
the capital city of East Darfur,
said commercial stores closed
when the clashes broke out
in the locality of Abu Karinka
the situation which foretells disaster
unless authorities bring an end
to the violence between
the two tribes
1966 is rooted
more violent oil
nine people were killed
their car fell
off a bridge into a river
in Hubei province
rammed into the guardrail
crossing a bridge
in Shiyan city
hundreds of inmates
in KwaZulu-Natal Province
after a fire broke out
if there were any fatalities, injuries
or inmate escapes
they are still gathering information
inmates had escaped
since they were held
blaze broke out in the dining hall
flames quickly spread
47 people injured
tour bus and a dump truck
head-on in Nanbu, Yamanashi Prefecture
bus on its way from Shimada,
to Nagano Prefecture
after a Mother’s Day tour
over the center line
driver is being
F-16 fighter plane
the army, the jet
missing (local time)
the pilot of another plane
missing jet eject
Morocco sent four F-16 warplanes
airstrikes against Houthi rebels
in Yemen. A search operation
The affected suburbs
Mona Vale, Newport,
Palm Beach and
substation and may take
Meanwhile, about 2,000 businesses
and homes at Avoca Beach
are also without power and authorities
are still trying to determine the cause.
Collecting Dust In LibCom (A Paraphrase)
Wine and Cheese tackle the question
that ‘we’ win if they win is for some reason [mis]understood.
The law is breaking human beings and communities every day.
Some people also mention language.
The claim that human beings can be split
into various races and peoples based
on their biology and in particular
their blood is rather out of fashion these days.
There are people with A, AB, B and O,
[but] a language cannot be so utterly decisive.
On the other hand, the
do not have an exclusive usage of the
language as their mother tongue.
There is no objective criterion for what makes a dialect
a dialect of some language or a language of its own;
language is a skill which can be learned.
Sure enough, quite a few
know how to enjoy a cup of tea.
This argument may seem quite formal,
and one member of a nation that has culturally
nothing at all in common with another member
of that same nation could simply found a club,
team or whatever suits them best.
So far, so bizarre,
yet, they are still citizens,
‘their’ history in history classes,
and a history that can be referred to as ‘ours’.
God Is Not Dead (A Paraphrase)
When I was a teenager,
and … the world was soon to end,
He could describe the afterlife,
the fate of Hitler’s soul.
He was an intelligent and amiable man,
a teacher and a scholar,
a source of spirituality and transcendence,
tolerance and love,
charity and good works.
The natural world,
let alone a world beyond nature,
for better or worse,
define[d] religion as billions of people
understand and practice it.
When asked for details,
Woody Allen once said,
“I don’t want to achieve immortality
through my work.”
But America is an anomaly, isn’t it?
isolated from the intellectual
progress made by the rest of the world.
Finally, consider scientists,
but not by a huge amount,
no mealy-mouthed evasions
such as “I believe in the totality
of all that exists” said yes
to a belief in this kind of God.
These facts are an embarrassment,
soon to be eroded
in evolutionary biology,
and developmental psychology.
Rainmaker (A Paraphrase)
Picture a situation where
connecting what you are doing on the Internet to where you live
reads what you need
better than just rolling dice and hoping no one is watching
They can only decrypt
the layer assigned to them
(only they have the key)
dig deeper came from sent to
peeled away one at a time on its way
not for the weak of heart
We’ll dive deeper
wide open for the stealing
to root a box, they need to learn
how not to be found
There are still methods
on the ‘clear’
a few layers between yourself and the world can never hurt
to start your adventure with
a few serious issues
secure enough to communicate with
anyone who can sniff the traffic
S (A Paraphrase)
Subjective validation is the process
Subjective validation explains why many people are seduced
Subjective validation deludes everyone from the housewife
of validating words, initials, statements,
portraits of psychological disorders
by the apparent accuracy of pseudoscientific personality profiles,
who thinks her happiness depends on her blood type or horoscope,
to the therapist who thinks her Rorschach readings are penetrating
or signs as accurate because one is able,
astrologers, palm readers, tarot readers, mediums, and the like,
to find them personally meaningful and significant
to the FBI agent who thinks criminal profiles are spot on
to succeed and are willing to work hard to find personal meaning
not due to her ability and willingness to cooperate
he senses a father figure trying to contact him
only to find someone to fit the bill. It need not be
her deceased husband, the medium is validated by the subject
when the medium says she is getting the message
from a departed soul who was in a wheelchair before ambiguous stimulus,
she was able to make sense out of, forget stuff that made no sense to her,
the stronger the desire to make contact, the harder
fact should impact the design
not lose sight of,
like, the name ‘Michael’ or the expression ‘broken wheel’
but all it takes is for the overall effect of subjective validation, controls that could have
eliminated subjective validation as she had never met. She was told only
a transcript of the information —supposedly from the dead husband—
she scored the reading as 73 percent accurate. Without controls, the high
in his Afterlife Experiments dismiss the charge of standard tricks of magicians,
playing Sherlock Holmes and picking up subtle cues from perfume, jewelry,
and the like, willing and able to connect the dots and make sense out of phony
human beings, words, symbols, signs, sounds, gestures, and the like,
very good at this and you might say we don’t see what is right before our eyes.
Strong enough, we can bring the dead back to supernatural significance
in an egregious error of a missing 10-year-old boy, a “dark-skinned man,
alleged psychic, worked in a railroad car plant, was involved,
his or her wires crossed, they’re not gods and not infallible,
you’re right and when you’re wrong you’re right
it is always a win-win with your devoted
and the body might be concealed in a railway car.
The Performance (A Paraphrase)
As a preparation for the [recital],
all the fires in the village
were extinguished, and the ashes
swept clean away.
[The poet] mimics the effects of serotonin
by providing an alternate
algorithm of processing
The sanctity attributed to the persons
of <insert point of authority> in <insert nation>
naturally extended also to their [poets], which
on the primitive view are hardly separable
from the <insert superstitious constituent of consciousness>
of their owners.
The means by which they were supposed
to effect this end were imitation
If we find it hard to throw ourselves
even in fancy into a mental
[hospital] in which such things
seem possible, we can more easily
picture ourselves the anxiety
which the savage, when he first began
to lift his thoughts above the [algorithm]
of his merely animal wants, and to meditate
on the [process] of things, may have felt as
to the continued operation of what
we now call the laws of nature.
Even tribes which do not
till the ground sometimes
observe analogous [recitals]
when they gather the first wild
fruits or dig the first roots
of the season.
The sight once seen can never be
forgotten, but we turn
from it and pursue
our way darkling.
Translator’s Backward (A Paraphrase)
This page intentionally left blank
to read it as a challenge: to pry open the vacant spaces
Some might call that promiscuous.
Out of habit, purely out of habit
there exists a “secret link constituted by
the critique of negativity,
the cultivation of joy,
an affectionate study of “an enemy”
precisely dated, but can be read
in any order
by “good” sense, of rocklike identity,
“universal” truth, and (white male) justice.
as a kind of ass-fuck, or, what amounts
to the same thing, an immaculate conception.
“Philosophy, nothing but philosophy.” Of a bastard line.
Wading Through RationalWiki (A Paraphrase)
First, the “veils” chosen are entirely arbitrary.
Why not choose the three layers of the skin
or the three layers of the uterus?
Why use a metaphor relating embryos to leeches
when listeners cannot be expected to know
what characteristic the analogy describes?
It’s hard to argue that “formed and unformed”
implies “differentiated and undifferentiated”
when it’s just as possible that
the verse is poetically referring to the fact that,
this verse does not sufficiently indicate that
the senses develop in this order.
The statement, “I gave you bread, water, and fish”
does not clearly imply that bread came first,
then water, then fish; instead
it merely indicates that all were given.
Temporarily ignoring the blatant misogyny,
this verse clearly indicates that
females do not provide genetic material.
Instead, the apologetic argument arises here
because the cited verses are sometimes translated
in such a way that
they imply that
some “mixing” has gone on
However, this verse merely mentions males and females,
and doesn’t even argue for the “thickened fluid”.
If we interpret this as “water formed all life,”
then this is incorrect.
Life is made [up of] many different compounds,
not just H2O.
To Scrabble Or Not To (A Paraphrase)
I want to unpack what it means to be “good at”
language. The bad feelings come from
thinking, well okay, yeah. This is obvious: to be
improving your Scrabble score is to memorize words
in a way that can be oppressive,
what I’m calling “smart-ass” words.
In order to be good at Scrabble,
valued by society at
establishes a binary:
soccer or poker,
“good spelling” and “large vocabulary”,
to be a
list of words that are “valid,”
some other words have to be “invalid.”
a harmful binary
that exists in the real world
what kinds of English are
considered “correct” and “incorrect,”
people who use language
differently, who have “low” literacy, are “stupid” or “lazy”
a good move in Scrabble is saying more than “I’m a better
Scrabble player than you.” It’s saying “I’m a better person than you.” a
harmful form of privilege.
spelling is not real.
spelling is the way that it
aesthetic and politically expedient
spelling is obstructed along any number of axes.
smart you are has a long history
and so it continues today—
Scroll Down (A Paraphrase)
Not written a #haiku;
or a poem, in ages
God, I suck at this
Kerala: Cable Operator Mixes up Pen Drive,
Screens Porn at Kalpetta KSRTC Bus Stand for 30 Minutes
Mornings are bloody exhausting.
The Kanji season has begun. 😀
When you have no idea what you are building, call it a platform.
Government agrees to pay 41% of the deposits to Golden Key depositors.
I pray i wake up tomorrow a completely different person..
A better version hopefully
A Nation Behind The Scenes (A Paraphrase)
an insect mimics a leaf
on a new footing
with the vegetable state
of predatory animal warfare
a war zone
masking one’s life
not to blend in
with the indigenous
bondage and imitation;
to undo their pre-programmed
deaths, take over or flee,
a way-station en route
to be a true copy
a new version complete
an empty grape storage tank
bracketed by grapes
the situation of the plot
is expressed by the scintillating
wife dancing in the wine cup
a glorious family
the polarity between
a complex circuit
made in 1919
by the name of
It (A Paraphrase)
Here’s a case of it.
Here is a red flower.
The color of this flower
here is a case
of it …
Description cannot free itself …
reference cannot be reduced to sense.
But what does it open reality up to?
Borne Out Of A Poet (A Paraphrase)
The main bone of contention
has been the location
of Lanka … the kingdom
A tutelary god
Vibhisana is still worshipped
the deity of Ceylon
in the Mahamayuri
a magical text
of the Mahayana
Peopled by Yaksas and Nagas
a fairly well-organized kingdom
a city called Lankapura
further borne out
by the fact
that the castle of Ravana
was swallowed up
by the sea
could have arisen
of the spread
of the poem
Adharma (A Paraphrase)
literally, the worlds
well-versed in … wealth
desiring the benefits of Dharma
with evil intellect
craving for the fruit
and bliss immediately
increase the joy of the mind
in the future, no essence
of the good … is seen on earth
the observation of those desiring
the great fault
the mind becomes angry
Drama (A Paraphrase)
You must come out.
That’s a beautiful image.
What a beautiful image!
A couple is about to break up.
x and y are about to break up.
I think it’s better that we break up.
Then what have we been doing together for ten years ?
I and you, here and there, now and a little while ago
Look there it is, the proof I was looking for!
Something for recording the voice?
That’s a mic, like this one here.
This page is white
and is not white
from there, it is gray.
What can be shown,
cannot be said.
Aesthetics (A Paraphrase)
and limiting food
for long periods
[they] ate only
what fell into their hands
drank water only
thrived on air
fruit and mustard
to live at the feet
Bathing Regularly (A Paraphrase)
was normally expected
to be celibate
a special feature
of the spiritual life
Children of Abraham (A Paraphrase)
The splitting of the self would, at least,
have the finality of destroying
Is the order Abraham receives
to sacrifice his son
any more intelligible
than a memorandum
directing round-ups, convoys. concentratings, and either
slow or quick death?
Isn’t it a matter of idiolect?
That Isaac die, that is my law,
and he obeys.
The Lord speaks
at this moment
only to Abraham,
and Abraham is answerable
only to the Lord.
Since the reality,
if not of the Lord,
then, at least, of the phrase imputed to Him,
cannot be established,
how can it be known
that Abraham isn’t a paranoiac
subject to homicidal
Or a fake?
Sidestep (A Paraphrase)
Not just anybody
can be allowed
in the living
Who are these friends?
They are dedicated to agonistics,
that is, to three-way games.
Can’t these contacts be
Even silences can refer to gods
in response to the question
“When are you leaving?”
I answer, Now.
Faith (A Paraphrase)
The angels themselves are prey to this blindness.
The blindness is in putting yourself in the place of the other, in saying
I in his or her place, in neutralizing his or her transcendence,
deprived of the “free” use of oneself, abandoned by one’s narcissistic
Could we begin with the dispersion, without any nostalgia for the self?
By turning the I into its you
the other makes him or herself master,
I into his or her
the incomparable character
of an event,
the doing in question,
to hear a voice speaking to you
The meeting is open,
War is declared
It is like the voice of God:
“You can’t hear God
speak to someone else,
you can hear him only
if you are being addressed”
Elementary (A Paraphrase)
at great length
purporting to represent
the words … glorified
a thousand … sacrifices
the good men
risk their lives
in the three worlds
Soma … Brahma … Amrta
from fire … water
from earth … water
all beings born
to be their re-absorber
liars performing a hundred sacrifices
follow the vow of truthfulness
and the gods are established
in a passage
The Poets of Allah (A Transcreation)
They have already denied, but there will
come to them the news
of that which they used to ridicule,
and that my breast will tighten
and my tongue will not be fluent,
so send for … sin, we are with you,
listening, the messengers
of the worlds, I did it, then,
while I was of those astray,
is this a favor
of which you remind me?
“Do you not hear?
who has been sent
He drew out his hand,
it was a serpent manifest,
a learned magician,
to drive you
out of your land
by his magic.
you will throw.”
“Travel by night.”
“We worship idols and remain
to them devoted,
we found our fathers doing thus,
enemies to you,
cause you to die
and then bring me to life
place me among the Garden
with a sound heart.”
in manifest error,
denied the messengers,
followed by the lowest class.
“Strike, strike as tyrants,
gardens and springs,
affected by magic,
a people transgressing,
upon them a rain
and evil was the rain,
[for] companions of the thicket
weigh with an even balance
among the liars,
the day of the black
cloud seized them
in a clear Arabic language;
scriptures of former peoples,
enraging us, a cautious society,
removed … from gardens and springs,
pursued at sunrise,
you’ll drowned the others.”
Are you impatient,
availed by the enjoyment?
Lower your wing,
when you arise.
is the hearing,
in every valley
those who have wronged
are going to know
to what return
they will be
And a phrase (A Paraphrase)
It happens that you doubt
A sentence is not emotional a paragraph is
If two sentences make a paragraph a
little piece is alright
because they are better
When it is there
it is out there.
This is a sentiment not a sentence.
Sentences make one sigh.
Never ask any one what a sentence is or what it has been.
This is a simple meaning.
A sentence says you know what I mean.
The outrage of selecting phrases from Gertrude Stein’s text: I utilize them,
make them serve
an argument. a discourse that subjugates
phrases, that fills the abysses
in “my” text, separates
and unites them
In Stein’s text, a phrase is one time,
an event, it happens. The anxiety
that this will not start up again,
that Being will come
to a halt, distends the paragraphs.
Dubiety (A Paraphrase)
There has been a phrase
There has been a phrase / follows / I doubt
There has been …
is this and that
and this is language
and so on
What is not doubtful?
There is no phrase
is a phrase.
is a phrase
What do I know?
The Greeks Were Greatly To Blame (A Paraphrase)
is a behavior
acted out in a given situation;
includes other believers and doubters
with a history, or many histories;
A great number of women
came down to the sea-shore,
among them the king’s daughter,
standing near the rear of the vessel,
bargaining pleased them,
hurried them on board,
made an attack upon them
to continue to reproduce
something other than sadness.
will ultimately fail
and their forms
to limit and control.
This was the beginning
unable to tell their name,
transformed within language,
the more immediate
object of their expedition
for the rape, and the restitution
of an individual or an institution
carries and activates
a profoundly historical
and volatile unconscious.
That we speak
to one another,
to an other,
means that we are free,
The Artists Who Forged Themselves (A Paraphrase)
The mind of an artist is an open, dissipative system
which absorbs information from the external world
which could take the form
of an artwork.
in the brain of an artist
which, by means
of the artist’s brush strokes
”higher organization of meaning in the work of art”.
It is not necessary to know
which work of art is original
as long there is another art work
from the aspect of originality
functioning of a painting
or a piece of music is all mental,
and the artist’s striving
by the perceptual pulls and pushes
he observes within the work
while shaping it.
Creating and viewing visual art
are both nonlinear experiences.
Creating a work of art is an irreversible process
increasing levels of complexity
and unpredictable events.
Of Depicting Matters (A Paraphrase)
This familiar desk
and by deflecting
light to my
at arm’s length –
there is little cause
for wonder –
through the observable
mouthing of words,
the things in sharpest focus
are the things that are public enough
to be talked of publicly,
to be talked of often,
to be quickly identified and learned by name;
each of us learns
from other people.
A derivative idiom,
as like that of rotten eggs,
resorts to reference to public things,
as one sees his nose best in a mirror,
reflecting in external objects
in all their innocence of interpretation.
The motivating insight
by the same sort of knowledge
that prompts it.
Disaster, Like This Is (A True Story)
Three persons have died and around
530 people affected by food
poisoning in Assam’s
Barpeta district after
at a religious event.
There have been three new
outbreaks of high-path
H5N2 in poultry
in Taiwan, affecting more
Seventeen people were injured when
the flooring of an ancestral house
in Liliw town in Laguna
collapsed amid feast day
revelry on Thursday (19).
About 2,000 migrating snow geese
cholera in the Mud
Lake and Market
Lake wildlife management
areas, the Idaho
Department of Fish and Game
said Monday (16).
A suspected case of avian influenza
has been identified in poultry
in Arkansas, the third-largest
U.S. turkey producer and home
to Tyson Foods Inc,
the nation’s biggest chicken
A large number of dead
fish and a dead dolphin
have washed up
on the beaches of
the Outer Banks
over the past
The threat of an avian
flu outbreak forced
to sound an alert
on Saturday (14).
Health officials in Queensland,
Australia, issued an alert
to local media and the public
on Wednesday (11)
after doctors determined a man was a measles patient.
Escapism, If You Will (A Paraphrase)
Contemporary sports culture
exploits the rivalries
between competing themes
and serves to perpetuate
the dominance of consumerism,
which is just another form
The more demand there is
for merchandise, the more
supply will be needed.
That is how capitalism works.
in the colonial sense
such as discipline,
hard work, and
pride for one’s nation
as a whole.
was a ritual
of British moral codes,
adherence to laws
and a strong sense
Sports serve as a distraction
from the completely unequal,
by providing a facade
and apolitical agency.
Made In China (A Paraphrase)
Suwel Sung and Liyong Siyang,
masterminds, sent begging
Si Yang Sin, Sun Bautan,
Si Dong Shing and Yang Sun Chin
from a house they had rented out
in Kollupitiya, obstructing the people
near the Fort Railway Station.
Arrested by the Fort Police,
Fort Magistrate was told
they had committed
a punishable offence
under section 3(1)
of the Vagrants Ordinance,
and charged them
with a fine
of Rs 100
Didactic Ipsum (A Paraphrase)
Love, pursue, desire pain
because it is pain.
Toil and pain
can procure greatness.
A trivial example:
laborious physical exercise.
Those who find fault
choose to enjoy pleasure.
Blinded by desire,
they cannot foresee.
Blame belongs to they
who fail in their duty
of will, the same
The Highest Spiritual Ideal (A Paraphrase)
in the heart
a[n] … other … life
stage … not enforced
the ideal of … restraint
MAIDAN SHAR (An Ecstatic Truth)
official sour sad
13 people we killed
and to others we injured
on Tuday mo[u]rning when men
pen fire at tree hic in War province.
cord to a state sued by he prov[e] over, a group
of med men hot he ices, leaving 13 asses dad
and to wound. he me[a]nt de[a]d hat a woman
as a mon[k] he ceased an er n[u]n-ear o son
on bard a us as [c]ured.
he hooting i dent cured in [d]aft ab ality of
ay bad strict on he man rod inking a bul
to and a h[e]r [w]ince. he jur[y] vit im we rushd
to spit or merge eat men. s f p[a]ss time, no du[e]l
or ou ha clai med cre dit or he tack.
The Creator (A Paraphrase)
you who are possessed
come to this calamity
both stable and moving
follow virtuous vows
wicked ones, useless
good deeds tied, killed
what can it do?
it is killed
and it kills the other
it is invisible
O destroyer of enemies
the Dharma abandons the weakling
and follows the powerful
So abandon the Dharma
as your father
who was dishonest