Friday, March 5, 2010

Drafting Anew

49º ~ sun on the path to warming

Today was a bit of new start after last week's disaster. I had to start a new journal, even though I'd barely written in the ruined one, and I had a slew of recently received lit mags on the desk. While I may want to sit down at the desk and immediately begin to write, my process doesn't work that way. I need to read for a good half-hour to an hour to settle my brain and get the ground to soften and allow the new shoots through. Today, I read the recent issue of American Poetry Review. Before I get to the drafting, I wanted to share the end of a poem that leapt off the page for me. Joe-Anne McLaughlin is new to me, but has three books I plan to check out. McLaughlin's poem "Munnsville Sites, Or Why You Should Visit" ends this way: "yellow jackets / harvest apple pulp so sweet, / one bite / could prevent your suicide / for weeks:" Wow!

With that echoing in my head, I felt limber enough to begin staring at the blank page myself. I decided I'd look at my inspiration cards, and it turned out that the first one I looked at (a new one), set me off. I've included it here. Sadly, the fish doesn't make an appearance in the poem. The first line actually arose from a bit of McLaughlin's bio in APR: "Likewise, she runs... . " The bio goes on to talk about a summer program McLaughlin runs, but the sound and the rhythm of "Likewise, she runs" spawned the poem that became "The Nature of Conflict." I took the title and the emotional sense of the poem from the card, and I used the sheep and the bouquet. What I love about these cards is that every time I look at them, I see something new or have a chance to go in a new direction. They startle me out of my poetic ruts, and let's face it, we all have our own poetic ruts.


Kristin said...

I would love to hear more about these inspiration cards--how do you make them, how do you use them? Sounds like something my art students would love. You may have already blogged about it, and I missed it--if so, sorry! I figured it was easier to ask than to hunt through your back postings on the off chance I'd find it.


Sandy Longhorn said...

K., no problem. The cards are made with basic collage methods. The images I cut out from all sorts of magazines and junk mail. I got the idea from Kelli Russell Agodon's blog, and I wrote about it on Nov. 22 and 23, 2009: