Friday, January 28, 2011

Friday Draft: Inspiration Cards

38º ~ bright sun, slight breeze, on our way to the 60s today ~ wahoo

I started today with the happy, happy, joy, joy of recent acceptances and publications.  Given that the poem of mine selected by Jonathon Williams and Ash Bowen for Two Weeks: A Digital Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, was one of my cautionary/haunting/fairy tales about a girl from the Midwest, I began my session today by reading over all five of the poems I've drafted in that series.
Cautionary Tale for Girls in Love with Fire (in Two Weeks)
Haunting Tale for Girls Embraced by Snow
Fairy Tale for Drowned Girls
Fairy Tale for Girls Enthralled by the Storm
Fairy Tale for Girls Who Seek to Meet the Horizon

After reading through these poems, I spent some time brainstorming other Midwestern landscape phenomena that might fit the series, but nothing was happening there.

Then, I remembered what I remarked in the last post, that both of the poems accepted by Anti- were first drafted using inspiration cards. (Read about these cards here.)  For anyone keeping score at home, they took "Backdrop for an Archetypal Bloodline" and "Urban Archaeology: Reading the Ruins."  Given this bit of good news, I opened up my folder of cards and flipped through.  It turns out that once I've gotten a poem out of a card, it loses a certain appeal.  Then, I realized that there were four different cards that interested me and that maybe I could find a way to use a little bit from each one.  So, I set the four cards out in a square.

I started in my journal with the words from the blue card: "An ancient wind" and "making heartache sound transcendent."  I also liked the words on the yellow card:  "trying to reclaim language" and "Stamped by history."  The red card says "Prepare to be dazzled by" and "gadgets" and "grace and personality."  The green card says "the industrial Midwest" and "a foreign landscape of small acreages."  This time around, I used a bit of language from each card and at least one image from each of the four cards.  I found that having a multitude of choices kept me going.

In some ways it was a bit of an aimless draft at first because I didn't have the structure of the fairy tale, that narrative, that I'd been working with most recently to hold up the draft.  Really, I was going with gut instinct and collecting lines along the way.  This may be the nature of the lyric poem, I suppose, but sometimes even when I work on a lyric poem, I have a stronger sense of theme, for lack of a better word.

For some reason, the first lines ended up as a tercet and a couplet, so I kept that up.  After I got four stanzas, I wanted a title to help guide the poem.  That's where the green card game back into play, as the title is currently "The Mythos of the Industrial Midwest" and boy that didn't come easy.  I must have tried on five or six titles.  The first one I tried I thought was fabulous but it drove the draft to a standstill b/c it didn't fit the images I was working with.  I'll save that for another day perhaps. 

As for the images, here's the score on which ones I used.   Green card: images of clockworks, blueprints, and Depression glass.  Red card: another clock and the structure of a sign attached to a building.  Blue card: the moth and the map.  Yellow card: the bridge and the weighing receptacle from the scale with the money in it.

Here are the opening lines as they stand right now:

Facing another season of ancient winds,
the echo in the bridge piers making heartache
sound transcendent, I stand here trying

We will see where things go in the round of revisions.  As always, thanks for reading, commenting, and being supportive of the journey.

Oh, and if anyone wants the older cards I'm not using anymore, leave me a message and I'll be glad to send them on to you, as I'm always making more of these.


Molly said...

Really intrigued by the idea of titling a draft-in-progress to see if the title pushes it along somewhere. I haven't tried that trick, but you can bet I will be trying it soon.

Sandy Longhorn said...

Molly, I was really surprised by what happened with the title this time around. I'll be adding that to my list of tricks for future drafts. Let me know how it works for you.

Karen J. Weyant said...

Hi Sandy, Do you have any of your fairy tale poems published online? I would like to read one...

Kathleen said...

I just love this process account, and seeing bits of the results! Looking forward to whole poems and the whole set on down the road!

Sandy Longhorn said...

Karen, thanks for asking. So far, only the girl in love with fire has been published. It is in the Two Weeks Anthology. 58 poems and audio for only $4.99 is a great deal. If you don't have a Kindle, there are free applications so you can read it on your computer. Here are the free apps:
The anthology can be purchased here:

The drowned girl and the girl in the snow are out for consideration now, so fingers crossed.

The last two are too new and still need some revising.

I'll keep you posted!

Sandy Longhorn said...

Kathleen, as ever, thanks for the support!

Kristin said...

I've wondered if there's not a market for these inspiration cards you're making. I realize that the images are not yours to sell, but as I was happily collaging a few weeks ago, I did wonder whether or not there was a way to make some money (it's an unattractive quality that I have, always looking for a way for the art to pay for itself).

If no one else wants the cards, I'd be happy to give them a good home. I could send you photos of the collages I'm making in return.

It's an interesting question, whether or not someone else's image collections will speak to us. Maybe we could take notes and turn the whole experiment into a presentation--perhaps at a future AWP?

Just a thought . . . no pressure, of course.

Sandy Longhorn said...

Kristin, great question. I'll email you about the cards.

Hope to see you soon!

jessica said...

Hi Sandy,

Interested in the idea of the inspiration cards! Right now time is what I am lacking, not inspiration, but I know how fleeting this luxury can be. ;-)

Also thinking creating cards might be an interesting exercise for my high school students.

Thank you for the inspiration! ;-)

Sandy Longhorn said...

Jessica, thanks for stopping by. I think it would be a great exercise for high school students. They could make the cards and exchange them even.