So, I came home from school yesterday and began to clean up all the loose ends before tackling the big papers. I had the Cubs game on. We were getting slaughtered by the D-backs (final score 13 - 5), and after the 3rd inning, I'd started to feel a bit blue (Cubbie blue blues!). I happened to check my email in between recording a few last minute journal grades and swearing at the TV. Lo and behold, there was a Woo Hoo! news email sitting there staring me in the face.
Matthew Olzmann, Poetry Editor for The Collagist, had emailed to tell me that they had accepted "Body Sewn Together with Twine and a Dull Needle." Woo Hoo! I've blogged before about The Collagist, and I'm thrilled to have placed a poem at such a great online journal. Like several other online journals, I'll have the opportunity to submit a recording of the poem, and the editors will conduct an interview with me as well.
Given that I knew going into this week that I wouldn't be drafting a poem today, I thought I'd tell you a little bit about the drafting process of "Body Sewn Together with Twine and a Dull Needle." I knew the poem had begun almost a year ago, but to be sure, I went back and flipped through my file. Each poem gets its own manila folder once it's graduated from the "In Progress" folder. I keep each significantly new draft in the poem's folder with a date on each draft (I'm a bit OCD that way). Sure enough, the opening of the poem had been drafted June 3rd of 2009.
Without tantalizing too much, the poem is a bit spooky and dreamlike at the beginning, and I just couldn't for the life of me remember if the actual image I began with came from a dream/nightmare or not. I don't usually write directly from my dreams/nightmares, but I had a niggling suspicion that this was an exception. I went to my journals and looked back over the one from that time period. Sure enough, there's the beginning of the poem, but no notes on what sparked the image. I can tell you that I was reading Ada Limon (accent absent due to Blogger formatting troubles) and Lisa Russ Spaar.
In any case, the poem began in my journal, and then I went to the computer and printed out about six lines. Apparently, nothing was really going on at the time and those lines sat around in my "In Progress" folder for quite a bit. Later, in November 2009, I combined those lines with a set of lines also drafted in June, but which I hadn't seen fit to join at the time. Thus, the poem I have now grew into its body with many additions, deletions, and general revisions along the way. The format of the poem changed from a somewhat staid left-aligned, bulky, single stanza to several stanzas with various indention and line break experiments along the way. There's more white space now because the subject matter called for it. I'll let you know when the poem is available online and you can judge, Dear Reader, whether I made the right call on the formal elements.
I began submitting the poem in January to meet with several quick rejections. I worked with it a bit more and sent it out again, now in its current form, in mid-March. A six week turn-around on the acceptance is awesome!
For now, I'll be keeping a weather eye on the horizon and a teaching eye on the papers before me.