This morning I was late to the drafting table, still catching up on some academic work, as much of the last two days was taken up by a student success fair at our school. I was the organizer and liaison from our division, so lots of running of supplies from building to building and keeping tabs on who was supposed to be where when. It all went wonderfully, and I'm proud of my colleagues for stepping up to help get information into the hands of our students.
But, today is about drafting. I fiddled with deskwork a bit and then reminded myself that I was sitting here for the sole purpose of writing a poem. Once I prodded myself with that reminder, I put some Yo-Yo Ma on the playlist, swept the table clear of all but my journal and Quincy Troupe's book Weather Reports. I was reminded of Troupe's "A Poem for 'Magic'"(click to hear him read, you must!) by this week's poem up at Linebreak, "Throwdown" by Josh Kalscheur. So, I started by looking at Troupe's work again. I was reading the poem "Skulls Along the River" when I happened to look up and see the photograph a friend of mine had sent me last week. I had just read Troupe's line "we suffer because we must" and somehow lines about the photo started popping in my head.
I am a white girl from rural Iowa raised on Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, & Patsy Cline, and the rhythm of long slopes of land. Quincy Troupe is a black man from St. Louis raised on jazz and the blues and urban street rhythms. The only thing we seem to have in common is the constant presence of the river. And yet, I'm drawn to the images, rhythms, and blues refrains that lance and lace through his work. He's been a poet-hero of mine since the early 90's when I read his work as an undergraduate. While I don't write poems that look or feel like his, when I read Troupe's words, they spark some inspiration in me and I leap to the page.
The draft I turned out today, "Photo of a Stone Hand in Wales," takes its inspiration from Troupe and from my friend's photo, pictured here.
|Thank you, friend, for the image!|
I'm not feeling 100% confident about the poem because it seems to be about an age-old theme: the artist/craftsman's attempt to create something permanent and beautiful that will remain in the face of time's decaying nature. I'm pretty sure the master poets have already done this one exceedingly well. Only time will tell if my little attempt amounts to anything solid. I certainly hope that if it does, I find a better title!