As far as I can tell, my first “A line from…” poem used as its prompt words found in a Ron Silliman piece. Jackson Mac Low, Charles Mingus, Paracelsus, Gunter Grass, Friedrich Durrenmatt, & Calvin Coolidge weren’t far behind. But three years before them came “A poem beginning with a line from Foucault” & “A poem ending with a line from Pablo Neruda.” & before them all — in my multiverse, at least — was Robert Duncan’s “A Poem Beginning with a Line from Pindar.”
There is a history which is there to be taken advantage of. Chance meetings, long associations, stochastic processes. Google as partner on the dance floor. Out of it, along one — dare I say it? — line, have come more than 500 of these “A line from…” poems, encompassing poets, musicians, politicians of many persuasions, scientists, painters, actors, philosophers, as well as all of the American Presidents & some of the sycophantic staff of one of the more recent.
So who’ll have the next fangoogle with me?