Some poets may recognize the title line from John Berryman’s “Snow Line,” one of the poems we read for class today. But I thought it was also appropriate as I try to write drafts to the exercises given by the instructor this week. When I write to exercises or prompts that are very specific, my old rule-follower instincts kick in and that is usually not a good sign for my poems. So, there may be horribles this week. But it is hard to tell. At this point, I’ve drafted a poem about a valise (it’s a workable draft, but not sure that I’m into it), and tonight a poem about cottonwood fluff. Not two subjects I would have chosen otherwise. Of course, the poems are not JUST about those things, and at least everyone in the class is in the same boat of sharing brand new drafts at the start of class.
Just the first night and day that I’ve been away, and I feel like I have done a TON of reading and writing work. Did some online reading including the following:
Molly Spencer’s “Aubade with Transverse Orientation” at Heron Tree is gorgeous, gorgeous. Wow. Just like Molly! She is a talented poet and a lovely human being. Someone give her a prize and publish her manuscript, please.
New issue of Menacing Hedge – I love this journal and love that they feature both audio of published poems and usually several poems by each writer. Featured in this issue are some lovely lyric beauties by Sandra Marchetti and some gut-wrenching (literally and figuratively) poems by Risa Denenberg.
I like to curl up at the public library here in Iowa City – comfy chairs, lots of light, perfect quiet and a well-stocked 808-813. I read and take notes from books I haven’t seen – today’s pick was Mark Strand’s book of essays A Weather of Words: Poetic Perfection. Some things to consider that stuck with me:
“Lyric poems (…) fix in language what is most elusive about experience and convince us of its importance and truth.” (His definition of the lyric and its functions and features is one of the clearest and best I’ve seen.)
On the endings of poems – they “release us back into the world with the momentary illusion that no harm has been done.” (They do, don’t they?)
“Something beyond knowledge compels our interest and ability to be moved by a poem.” (Duh. But YES!)
I also did my book purchasing for the week:
- Madness, Rack and Honey by Mary Ruefle. I wasn’t going to buy my own copy as I have it on hold at the library, but I’m glad I did. I was underlining the introduction, for goodness sake.
- Seam byTarfia Faizullah – recommended by a million people
- Granted by Mary Szybist – earlier work
- Interrobang by Jessica Piazza – also recommended by several friends
- It is Daylight by Arda Collins – my instructor for this week.
- What Light Can Do – by Robert Hass – essays on art and creativity
Whew. I also have some revision drafting on the agenda tonight. Going to try and “stitching” technique suggested by Tom Holmes of Redactions. There may be horribles. But there also may be delightfuls. It’s always hard to tell.
- Running – Jack White’s Lazaretto
- About town (walking, lunch, etc.) – St. Vincent – St. Vincent
- Reading – Explosions in the Sky – Take Care, Take Care, Take Care
- Drafting – White Noise. (seriously) & some soundtrack music from The Social Network, courtesy of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.