the TRKLDWN is a poetic form that requires writers to explore their social position as it was, or might have been, during ronald reagan’s presidency (1980-88). throughout this era, bureaucrats across the political spectrum revived, refined, and relentlessly tested neoliberal economic policies and socially conservative philosophies.
the TRKLDWN places writers in a bureaucratic process wherein their identities (e.g., age, race, sex) and socioeconomic context (e.g., formal education, geography, employment) are evaluated against US Census Bureau and US Department of Commerce metrics to determine the quantity and variety of words the writer is allowed (or deserves) to access.
attention to the following procedural requirements is essential:
- a TRKLDWN consists of 1 to 4 unmetered quatrains
- demographics –of the TRKLDWN writer– determine if/when the poem utilizes “uncommon vocabulary”
- “uncommon vocabulary” is defined as words outside the Oxford English Corpus list of ‘Most Frequently Used English Words’
- although the writer has unlimited use of ‘Most Frequent’ words, they are initially allotted only 10 uncommon vocabulary words
- TRKLDWN bureaucratics utilizes 10 Data Tables. at each Data Table, the writer must choose to either gain access to 1 uncommon word OR choose to revoke usage of 1 uncommon word.
- the writer makes the decision to gain or revoke an uncommon word, based on where they did/would have situated themselves– in the 1980’s– within a given Data Table
- examples: after reflecting on all ten data tables, a writer can potentially gain access to ten additional uncommon words. this would produce a “TRKLDWN-20” (a TRKLDWN with 20 uncommon words).
- alternately, after reflecting, the writer may choose to revoke 4 of their originally allotted “uncommon” words. this would result in a “TRKLDWN-6” (a TRKLDWN with six uncommon words).
- throughout the TRKLDWN, length (e.g., letter count, word count) of each subsequent line must decrease
- specifically, a 10%-15% “tax cut” on opening line length is suggested. (Multiply opening line length by 0.10 to 0.15).
- Examples: A 12-word opening line suggests a 2-word decrease in subsequent lines. An 8-word opening line suggests a 1-word decrease in subsequent lines.
- a TRKLDWN must utilize the 1980 & 1984 Democratic/Republican party platform preambles for inspiration, themes, critiques, epigraphs, etc.
the linked PDF packet “TRKLDWN poetics” contains all necessary documents for creating a TRKLDWN:
- the common “word banks”
- US Census Data Tables
- US Department of Commerce Data Tables
- excerpts from Democratic & Republican party platform preambles
– Saleem Hue Penny
22 April 2021,
(updated 14 July 2021)