Telling Stories and Timehopping

Some weeks ago, younger colleagues at work introduced me to the Timehop app for my phone. It shows me what I posted on Twitter/Facebook on the same date in prior years. It was interesting for me to read over the last week how deeply engaged I was in the character of the Pioneer Wife around this time last year, using my winter break from school to do research and revise the drafts I had been compiling throughout the fall. I still do not know what the trigger was for that series – I know which poem came first, but not why it was a pioneer woman. But that obsession turned out to be a fruitful one, as the Pioneer Wife turned into a suite of poems that became a chapbook published by Red Bird Chapbooks in the spring of 2013. 

This winter break, I find myself similarly ensconced in one particular world, but this time I know the trigger. About two weeks ago, watching an episode of Michael Palin’s travel documentary about Brazil, I was reintroduced to the Amazon’s pink dolphins, which we were lucky enough to glimpse in Peru several years ago. On the show, his guide shared some local myths about the dolphins, which sent me back to my travel journal and then to the computer for a refresher course. I found the idea of mythical creatures who turn into humans at night to seduce women fanciful and clever. But some research revealed a dark side to the myth, that it may have been created to explain pregnancies from incestuous relationships that were common in isolated river villages. 

I found myself rooting for there to be a human girl and a dolphin that actually fell in love. Finding no such story on the internet, I decided I would write it. As of right now, there are eleven poems in very rough draft form. They speak in the voices of five different characters (the girl, the boto/the dolphin, her mother, her father, a narrator) with a story about two-thirds told. I like them as a suite of poems (similar to the Pioneer Wife), but I may play around with the idea of a fragmented narrative structure for fiction, as well as perhaps a series of poems that are connected by prose sentences or hyper-flash fiction sections. 

I have been sharing some lines from these poems on Twitter (my feed shows up to the right here on the blog) so that next year, if the Timehop app is still a working thing, I can look back and maybe find a new topic to strike my fancy. It feels good to be writing, to be telling stories, to be reminded that sometimes these deep dives are the ones that surface pearls.

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