Tuesday, July 31, 2007

walking the poem

Another day of startling beauty, finding others' talent overwhelming, finding myself keeping time with my pen, filling pages of little notes, writing two poems that might actually transform, grow. I find that poetry, and being witness, being present to poetry is like a balm for me. I do not need the other soothers, the other modifications that regular days might need.

A few things I noted today at random:

- the word "telos" means that which we are headed toward (with a suspended ending)
- keep in mind the different audiences for different modes of poetry and that there are quite a few species of poetry
- (on death) we have trouble with the festival pitching its tents
- the concept of the intermission poem to wend your way from one section to the next
- when you throw all the poems up, what has the most gravity?
- books and names thrown about: Paul Celan, Fanny Howe's Gone, The Motets, Olena Kalytiak Davis' And her Soul Out of Nothing and Shattered Sonnets, Jacques Rouboud's Some Thing Black, Dancing in Odessa

Three lovely things about ordering the manuscript:
- walk the poem--put manuscript on the floor--labyrinth of your poem--pick it up and physicall move it around (Linda Gregg does this)
- Read through manuscript, copy down just first line and last line, see what poem this makes--type them as couplets and see how they sound together and if a couplet sounds strange there, this is a poem to move
- when ordering poems, don't think about what the poem is about but what gestures the poem is making

I wrote two poems while in workshop also, so don't forget the first draftness of them. I will share one today, to close this humble post on day two of workshop with Carolyn Forche:

Like threads being pulled out from
the stamen, veiny flower, we are undoing
the wedding dress. It hung on a hook
in the bedroom closet for twenty years.
It collected dust, tears, pollen.
At night, when we were sleeping, it would
slip off the hanger and wend its way
around the room, in the moonlight.
We are killing the dress, plucking
feathers. I wish it would bleed; I wish
it would cry out as it deflates. I wish
I knew how to keep it from acting
the martyr.

Monday, July 30, 2007

meeting Carolyn Forche

When I think of last night, and I think of this morning, I cannot even wrap my mind around the reality of it: I have been in a room, twice, with Carolyn Forche. She knows my name, and, at this point, has read twenty of my bare naked poems, poems I both love and hate, poems that shame me and must be written.

I've kept little moments in my writing notebook, and I'll share them here:

- use italics rather than quotation marks to notate intruding voices
- arc of disclosure--book of poems as one poem--read last line of poem into next poem to see how they speak to each other
- motifs to set (blue table, before something terrible happens, a bell rings)
- there is a period of time that a poem can be revised--at some point, the poem dies within the poet
- sometimes the poem says things happen (that didn't)
- what arises in the poem isn't always the truth, but a kind of truth
- be aware of the consciousness of the poet
- sometimes you can only tell it plainly

Then, while we were reading, discussing, little snippets of poems would bloom up on my page, and I'd have to stop, have to close out the noise and just write for a moment, things about dreaming and pressing kisses in, something about tiaras and parades. Little moments of filtration and dissipation. Syncopation.

After, I wandered down to the university bookstore, because I must buy more poetry to read after I've had poetry on the brain, and I also picked up a visual dictionary and I LOVE it. I also plan to order a etymological dictionary, such a small treasure for a poet. (disaster--distance from a star) She said what I already knew: it's so important for a poet to have a meaty reference library. I've been building that bookshelf (or two) in that studio (so silly to call it that, the second bedroom) for a little while now. One of my favorite contributions comes from Kelly, who somehow remembered, which touches me so much, that I'd lusted over the New York Public Library Desk Reference. Many months later, on my birthday or for the holidays, she bought it, wrapped it up, and presented this poet's gift.

This week, too, is a gift. Right now, I cannot seem to ground myself in the reality of living poetry for a week like this. Yes, the wedding is hemming in, and I have to consider the practicalities of starting my new job, but for the most part, I am allowed to breathe poetry for a while. I can sit in my room, music low, and look at diagrams of seed pods and see how they will rise up on the page.

And the more I do this, the more I know this is what I want to do. I am doubtful of any level of talent at this point, but I know that it makes me happy, and that feels so important. It's scary because failure seems more logical than success, but I cannot accept myself as anything else--living, breathing poetry.