Friday, February 5, 2010

Another Week, Another Draft



39ยบ and an intermittent drizzle, no sun to speak of

Last night before bed, I took account of the fact that it was Thursday and I had yet to draft a poem for this week. I had a little talking to with myself, saying, "self, tomorrow you will draft a poem before you do anything else." Voila!

Today's drafting notes:
One of my current obsessions is saints and their relics; however, rather than studying the existing ones, I've been creating my own in poems. So far I have "The Winter Saint," "The Stone Saint," and "The Once-Winged Saint." I also have lots of poems that mention relics or reliquaries. For example, "The Mortician's Wife" in Copper Nickel 12. A few weeks ago, I used our library's ILL department to order some books as inspiration, completely going by titles alone. Wednesday, I received Relics & Reliquaries by Jeffrey Vallance. I flipped through and it is filled with wonderful color photographs. Strangely wonderful, it is about contemporary relics as much as ancient religious ones. Here's a sample from the table of contents: Childhood Relics, Pop Culture Relics, Richard M. Nixon Relics, Vatican Relics, Favulous Vegas Relics, Lutheran Relics, ... you get the idea.

This morning, I cleared my desk of distractions, set my iTunes to random on my classical music collection, cleared the screen, pushed the keyboard aside, and took up my journal & pen. I opened Vallance's book to the TofC, and on the opposite page is an etching of a saint. My eye was drawn to the bare feet, beautifully rendered. Only after I'd taken in these feet did I glance at the caption. Turns out it's an etching of the author in traditional saint-like pose, dressed in vaguely biblical robes, flowing locks of hair, light emanating in a halo of lines around the head, hands offering up two reliquaries, feet bare. Awesome. And then the first line struck...the feet of the fallen saint crack and splinter...

Somehow as I began to write about what I thought would become "The Fallen Saint" I was also thinking about the yew tree. I think I saw something on another blog recently about yew trees in poetry. I didn't read the blog but thought of Sylvia Plath's poem, "The Moon and the Yew Tree." While the Plath poem is nowhere in my draft (or so I think), I did steal the yew tree.

Here is where research intersected with today's draft. I hit the internet to find out more about yew trees. I had to make my saint European, and I included the poisonous berries and the typical birds that eat these seeds, thrushes and waxwings. Then I had to find out about the call of thrushes and waxwings. Note to self: if you play a recording of birdsong while trying to draft, both cats will leap onto the desk and stare raptly at the computer looking for their prey.

All of this wove together and became "The Starving Saint" (no longer fallen through several revisions).

4 comments:

Michelle said...

Hi, Sandy.

I love this post! When I am telling my students about collection development in libraries and the unexpected ways that people use information, this is exactly what I am talking about! I'm going to link to your post in my lecture notes!

Michelle

Sandy Longhorn said...

Woo Hoo, I'll be famous with librarians! Hee hee.

Seriously, I love the physical library with all my heart and will always use it, but the quick access to information online must be also changing the drafting process for me. Think of it, back at CSB when we were there, I'd have had to write out my questions for the poem and trudge through the snow to the library and then trudge through the card catalog or those CD-roms for the information!

Of course, the whole draft began with a physical book, so bless the librarians who purchased it at the Daniel Boone Regional Library and then allowed my school to ILL it!

Charlotte Pence said...

This sounds like such a great series of poems that you are writing! Funny coincidence, but I was writing a poem yesterday where I started researching what sort of saint would the character in my poem pray to. That led me to some odd sites including "Saint Fun Facts." Saints are many things, but fun is not one of them.

Sandy Longhorn said...

C., thanks for the note. You made me smile with the last sentence!