Conjugating the verb “to munt”

I’ve finished my experiments with the various conjugations of the verb “to munt”. If you ever watch the Discovery Channel program MythBusters, you’ll know where I’m coming from when I say that this has been one of those “and I do this for a living?!” helpless-giggling experiences. (Tragically, I’ve just spent twenty minutes trying to find the exact quote. And couldn’t. Sigh!)  The poem is completely silly, and not even slightly important. Which is good, because I’ve been getting a bit neurotic (again. Still.) about whether poem-in-progress Y is worth it, is it important, did it need to be written etc etc. And those questions are worth asking, but not until you’ve written the thing and are deciding what to do with it. There’s nothing wrong with five-finger-exercises, as long as you do still employ the skills that go in to making a good poem. Which I guess is a long-winded way of saying that a disposable poem is fine, as long as you treat it seriously in the writing. (To use a topical sporting metaphor: when you practice your serve, you should still concentrate on making the ball land in the court.)

The poem as the current draft stands:

Declining the Real Estate Agent

with apologies to Bill Manhire and the English language

This three bedroom character villa
is munted.

This three bedroom character villa
with great outdoor–indoor flow
was munted.

This three bedroom character villa
with great outdoor–indoor flow,
sunken lounge and water feature
will be munted.

This three bedroom character villa
with great outdoor–indoor flow,
sunken lounge, water feature
and imaginative use of windows
has been munted.

This three bedroom character villa
with great outdoor–indoor flow,
sunken lounge, water feature,
imaginative use of windows,
and gradual split levels, creating interesting ceilings
had been munted.

This three bedroom character villa
with great outdoor–indoor flow,
sunken lounge, water feature,
imaginative use of windows,
gradual split levels and interesting ceilings
has had no expanse spared and
will have been munted.

This three bedroom character villa
with outdoor–indoor flow,
sunken lounge, water feature,
imaginative use of windows,
gradual split levels and interesting ceilings
with no expanse spared
and motivated vendors

will be,
has been,
had been,
and will have been

and is no longer for sale.

Believe it or not, almost all of the descriptions of the house (which isn’t based on any particular house, in case you’re worried) were lifted from various real estate advertisements. The ‘no expanse spared’ is a particularly glorious Freudian error. (At least, I hope it was an error …)

I’m also hoping that the last long stanza plus punchline ending helps to take the poem beyond being just a game. I guess I’m trying to do two things here – play with the conjugations of ‘munted’, but also pile up the descriptions of the house. I think that last stanza, repeating the various conjugations, anchors both of those aspects of the poem more coherently – without them you wouldn’t be aware of the modifications to the verb, and would only hear the accumulating descriptions.

I’ve decided against reading it at the Putting Words to the Feelings session next weekend. In part because I was a little worried it might come across as condescending, or poking fun at people who are dealing with all sorts of grief regarding the government’s Red Zone buyouts. I’m going to go with another poem written at the same time (and in a fairly similar style) as a bit of light relief at the end of what may otherwise be a pretty grim reading. (What poem? Come along and see!) (Well, hear.)

Did I mention that I’m also a bit nervous about the appropriateness or otherwise of reading the earthquake-esque portion of “The City and the City” in Christchurch, to people who are dealing with this every day?

I know, I know – neurotic. But I’m a poet! What did you expect? Rational‽

5 Replies to “Conjugating the verb “to munt””

  1. Hi Joanna, It does kind of feel like I’m being thrown around in time. Disconcerting and hard to read. I think you’ve captured the experience well.


  2. Quite a good answer to those estate agents (we call em real estate agents here). It is absurd how they describe houses to make them look more attractive. Why don’t they just use pictures (unphotoshopped)?
    A house with character would be with not one plumb wall, narrow stairs, tiny cupboards, and closet doors that jam.

    We have a coffee shop in my town called Frogpond. I live in Owen Sound, Ontario.

    Reading your poem about crows reminds me of my poem about funerals that I compare to ravens who feed on carrion.

    I want to be left in the woods, under a favorite tree, and left to the elements.

    By the way, Marisa and I have been friends a long time, and she says you are
    very talented.

    1. Earthquakes and doors … when we bought this place (moved in just after the September quake), the wardrobe doors in the master bedroom all stuck. After the February quake, they all swung freely.
      Unfortunately June has them sticking again.

  3. I will not hide my jealousy. All these readings and poetry workshops you have. I want
    to live in Christchurch, quakes or not. Then I can see Marisa too.
    Anyone willing to contribute to airfare for my trip to NZ will be extolled to the gods.

  4. Thank you for munting that three bedroom villa. It did make me laugh, if somewhat guiltily. (True to form my previous comment on verb forms was completely irrelevant. Sorry about that).
    I have strong connections with Christchurch but, with the exception of a couple of relatively minor aftershocks whilst visiting, I have experienced the last year from afar. Significantly further than Southbridge. I am not living with it every day and cannot know how that feels. I have friends, family, a lot of history and a house which is being gradually geologically declined in Sumner but if I am not there can I even comment?
    What I observe of Cantabrians from afar in this situation is that among their great strengths, is their sense of humour. At what point did “A fraction liquefaction” first appear on utube? And the lists of what NOT to say to Cantabrians? It might be different if you had not written seriously on the earthquakes previously, but everyone frames their experiences in their own way and as an aspect of response isn’t this poem as valid as the serious and sombre? I don’t think its condescending, but I’m not there – and you didn’t ask me anyway.

    I am pleased you wrote it.

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