changes when we change the month of May to the month of
The May Question
by Matthew Goulish
Very often I could feel that a change in cares
Is a change in chairs and not only can and cares
Stanzas on Meditation
Part III Stanza XIX
I can I wish I do love none but you.
Upon discovering that Gertrude Stein had had an early love
affair with May Bookstaver, Alice B. Toklas realized that
Stein’s book-length poem Stanzas in Meditation had
been in part an encoded love letter, since it contained
hundreds of occurrences of the word “may.” Toklas
pressed Stein to rewrite the book to contain far fewer “mays”.
Stein “repaired” the text using the following
1. She changed the month of May to another month.
2. She inserted an n, changing “may”
3. She changed “may” to “can”.
Of these three, I personally find the third the most appealing,
having been corrected as a child many times between the
syntactical usage of “may” versus “can”
– with “May I go outside?” being correct,
while “Can I go outside?” always sounded better.
In addition to suggesting that Stein considered her poetry
elastic enough to absorb such changes, this linguistic “repair”
also raises the following question for the year-long writing
What changes when we change the month of May to the
month of Can?
May Structural Variation
by CJ Mitchell
Monday 6, 13, 20, 27
Tuesday 7, 14, 21, 28
Wednesday 1, 8, 15, 22, 29
Thursday 2, 9, 16, 23, 30
Friday 3, 10, 17, 24, 31
Saturday 4, 11, 18, 25
Sunday 5, 12, 19, 26
2002: a palindromic year
May 2002, on the basis of a Monday to Sunday week = 5/7/7/7/5
days: a palindromic month?
Palindrome [Gk palindromos running
back again…] 1a. a word, verse or sentence (as “Able
was I ere I saw Elba”) that reads the same backward
or forward b: WORD SQUARE 2: a number (as 18181) that expressed
in Arabic numerals has the same value when reversed.
1. Work with the concept of the palindrome within each
entry, and across your four or five entries in
the month. Apply the concept of the palindrome strictly
and/or loosely, and to whatever extent you wish.
For example, Friday:
Elements in the first 3 sentences in the May 10 entry could
be echoed in the last 3 sentences of the same entry.
Elements in the May 3 entry, could be echoed in the entry
for May 31.
2. Identify, in a manner of your choosing, the center point
or axis for your month’s entries.
For those with five entries, this could be Noon within
your third entry – this center point will, in a sense
be under your control. In contrast, for those with four
entries, the center point or axis might be considered as
either the connection between your second and third entries
(the final word/sentence in entry two and its connection
to the first word/sentence in entry three?); the space/absence
between your second and third entries; or the exact mid
point between your second and third entries, whose words
will be written by another writer – in a sense, this
center point might elude your control.
3. Palindromia Recurrence of a disease.
Respond to this additional definition in a manner of your
The tectonic plates of May 2002:
Seven plates are placed next to each other. Each plate has
a structural integrity within that one person’s writing,
but each palindromic structure is centered around a different
axis point from that of the other six writers. Its tensions
suggest it might fall apart; but the month is held in place.
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