Tuesday, June 5, 2007

the senses {living as a poet should}

Second meeting of the poetry writing group tonight. I sketched out observations, little pieces that fed my senses, as we wrote, discussed, and workshopped:

This is how my five senses live on N. [the mind of the poet with heightened senses]:

1. The way the breeze ripples the leaves, shadows dancing on a busy carpet. The quality of light is much like that on the bottom of a swimming pool, like the playful light is chasing itself, falling forward, sighing back.

2. My brain has the consistency of pomegranate seeds. Each globed piece, a thought, a focus, all gelatenous lumpy (breast mouse), that loose and slippery sense of movement.

3. The sound of lawn care: constant mower, angry trim, vibration of weed whacker, the sweep of grass beheaded. Then broom on concrete, this is the first of summer's vaniety.

4. An airport nearby, planes scuttling across the landscape. I've been so aware of planes when I write poetry in a spiral bound notebook. I had workshop with MDB that morning, before they cancelled school.

5. Rumble of motor. Thunka thunka on strips of tar. Down the street is a greasy spoon with a cartoon hot dog on the awning. This is movement on cool pavement as the sun is setting somewhere far away.

6. Sound of grandfather clock, that ancient rhythm of home. We are all sad in our own family' my grandparents' clock is spoken for, that one relic we were all hoping to take with us, to me, a calming reminder of summers spent there, of pontoon boats and wild Christmas trees, of the smell of well water and vegetable gardens. Perhaps I can find one, the same, hang it in effigy.

7. The sounds of a one sided telephone conversation, an urgency cracked open, but a calm sound too, the hum of a man's voice who is confident that everything will be All Right, his wife will manage to return to the geography of here. Each moment could bring a phone call from relatives or food, concern and giving.

8. Curtains like linen or broadcloth. Muslin. Small weave, texture, knotted.

9. A kitchen cove spilled over with photographs above the sink, curling at the edges.

Other things:

Our discussion of what moves us in poetry, what gets us excited, what sparks our interest, led us to consider this essay. Our homework for next week is to write our own "I am for an art" or "I am for a poetry," whatever that might be. For me, finding a way to put handles on my preferences helps me figure out where I am going. It makes it portable, transferable, understandable.

I will need to check out more of Elizabeth Bishop, read Julia Kasdorf (for her precise metaphors that widen out), find "The Anecdote of the Jar," (I can't remember why now, but we were talking about poems that people generally hate and we love and vice versa; we read "The Fish" by Elizabeth Bishop out loud and then liked it again) and especially Anne Carson, whose Autobiography of Red sent shivers down the spines of more than one workshop participant.

Love this: Eireann calls adverbs the "Twinkies of language." We can say it better with a noun or adjective. Love that we each tell a poet to take away verbs, add verbs, be more conscious of nouns. A big clash of readers, a poem that will need reconstructive surgery.

My own poem, along with last week's, will have something to say as I revisit it, palm the suggestions, roll them around until the stone is smooth, and leave something new, a little better in the process.

And some thoughts on the blog in general:

Eireann and I lingered, and she talked to me about poems that are muscular, without all the extra clothes. I think my poems are now in confused layers: Hawaiian shirts paired with hoop skirts and a woolly winter jacket. But here, in the blog, I can be effusive (her word) because these places don't have rules and (I hope) will never really have any. I think about how some writers of blogs are incredibly self conscious, speaking of editing, of being hyper aware of their writing. I think this is the one place, aside from my notebook, where the really horrifying writing comes out, particularly when I am in freewrite mode, that I feel OK about letting it all sort of hang out over the sides... which is silly because this is the one place where I have a modest audience, but then: it's not being published. Not truly, not in a little book that you can hold in your hands and sniff that booky smell. Rather, it's just here, it's what it is, and there are very few expectations to how it will all come out.

Poetry plays such a different role in my life. It may be theraputic, as this blog certainly is, but that's not the main purpose. Poetry needs to be compact, concise, moving, telling. Poetry needs to take you to places magically and in the best words possible. Poetry needs to have purpose, to have images, to create a sense of something wider.

Now I am truly rambling. Exhausted. (Things worth staying up too late for: good conversation, hearing a person when they need to be heard, asking something that needs to be asked, rekindling friendships that might have been on haitus, renewing vows to self and poems.) It is time for bed, and I wish you all sweet dreams and good health.

No comments: