Showing posts from March, 2009

The last word

Since December I have been working on a particular poetry project. This summer I wrote a poem of which I was really proud called "Jack." It took bits of the Jack and the Beanstalk fairytale and mixed them up with a child learning how to speak. I began with an image and just elaborated on it until I had a bit of story (which seems to be my primary poetry-writing method). But I think it became more than elaborated image when I made a little discovery through the writing of it. I had been stuck for a while smack dab in the middle of the poem; I needed some direction. Then one day it occurred to me: "Fe, fi, fo, fum." What is particularly of note, linguistically-speaking, in this folktale refrain? It contains mono-syllables using all the vowels in alphabetical order (excluding "a," of course). Silly or not, this was the point at which the poem really began to take shape and become one of my favorites:

Jack for little Anna Sovich

Lips full as lima bean pods,a pa…

They call me Chart Girl

One of the great things about those creative writing workshop classes was that they made you write, even if you didn't feel like it. Now that I'm out of school, I find it hard to create my own writing schedule, and even harder to stick to it. After a long hard think, I realized what part of that problem was about for me: accountability. In class, even creative writing, I had to turn in something even if it wasn't my best work, or I'd get a bad grade. The thing is, when there's no one to expect anything from me (except me), I discover that I am a big push-over and so I don't do my own homework. But then, I feel that awful guilt and uselessness that comes with not-writing; it's a very uneasy state of mind.

Then came: the chart. The objective: write one poem a week, even if it's crappy. By creating a physical log of my writing progress, I've made that accountability a palpable thing demanding evidence of time well spent. It's similar to the power of…

I love daffodils

But I'm not really a fan of that Wordsworth poem. I don't mean to offend any devoted followers of Romanticism. It's just that the combination of flower-imagery and "dancing" tends to activate my gag reflex. And spring is such an archetypal poetic subject that it's hard to get beyond those, now, very over-used images. But spring, the actual experience of it, never gets old. The period of transition between seasons is always refreshing, though all around is rather vulnerable and exposed. This is a draft of a poem I've been working on the last couple weeks:

March (märchen)

The frogs make their purple sound,
Crocus. Crocus.
with the focus of crickets.
In the rain, the whole
town smells like swamp—
river-thaw and moss-musk.

Well, so far it's just a fragment; but we'll see where it goes.