Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday Draft: One More Fairy Tale

23º ~ at least there is a return of the sun today, an inch and a half of snow stubborn on grassy areas, nothing on the streets, although early release yesterday during the worst of the snow, supposed to warm above freezing but not into the 40's today, more winter weather on the horizon for Sunday/Monday ~ the Kangaroo does not approve

Dear Reader, I hope you don't tire of stories about drafting fairy tale/cautionary tale poems.  It seems I'm enamored of them lately.

A confession: I forgot to think about drafting a poem last night before sleeping.  It was a lot harder to get going this morning.  Did I psych myself out once I realized I hadn't "prepped" for today?  Who knows.  Just an observation.

My friend and former student, Suzi, commented on my word bank post from last week and mentioned that she found herself gathering mostly verbs.  Ah ha, I thought, a new twist on the prompt.  I decided to start today by gathering only verbs from Kelli Russell Agodon's latest book, Letters from the Emily Dickinson Room.  This is a book I've had for several months and just hadn't gotten to.  It is next up on my reading pile.  I already know it's going to be awesome because as I was combing it for verbs, I kept getting caught up in the poems (a danger to the exercise and perhaps a reason to use a non-poetry book for gathering your words!).  In any case, I created my word bank of verbs.

Then, I veered from the prompt.  I thought I might try another fairy tale, so before I started with the words, I thought about what prairie icon I hadn't used yet.  I have used: Fire/Drought, Snow/Freezing, Lakes/Drowning, and Storm/Tornadoes.  As I stared out into the snowy wilds of the backyard, a picture from our summer trip to Jamaica was on my computer screen.  It happened to be one that was a long-distance view out over the ocean on a clear day.  The horizon line was amazing, and then ker-pow, I had it:  "Fairy Tale for Girls Who Seek to Meet the Horizon."  (There's a lot of commonality between the ocean horizon and the prairie/plains horizon.  Of course, the poem is about the prairie.)

I started off somewhat with my own lines and trying to mix in some of Kelli's verbs whenever I could.  This draft did not fall easily to the page.  There were many stops and starts.  (I wonder if this is because I didn't do the random word pair since I had all verbs.)  At first the girl of the poem was born mute and I went off in one direction for half a page.  As I transferred that to the computer, I realized the girl was becoming a little too much of a cliche, so I backtracked.  Now she is just 'quiet.'  Another interesting observation comes from form.  When I started off the poem I was trying to write without stanza breaks and using shorter lines but also lines of more varying lengths.  In reading poems lately, I've noticed that there are some poets who use the varied line length with great results and I tend to be someone who gravitates toward more universal line lengths within a poem.  So, I started the first round trying out the varied line lengths and no stanza breaks.  When I backtracked, I ended up reverting to form and using couplets with long, long lines.

Something to continue to mess with in future drafts.  When is the comfort zone a part of voice/style/identity? And when is the comfort zone just a crutch?

PS: And now, on proofreading this post, it comes to me that this poem DEMANDS long line that mirror the horizon.  Yes, form is something I've studied and something I think about, but not at the moment the draft is emerging (unless I'm going for a sonnet or a pantoum or another formal structure).


Kathleen said...

Love your epiphany about long lines.

Sandy Longhorn said...

Thanks, Kathleen. Some days it's a longer journey to epiphany than others. :)

Quintilian B. Nasty said...

That picture and your discussion of the quietness of the girl reminds me of the quietness of parts of the Midwestern countryside when it snows ~ the flatness, the silence, and the solitude of the view.

Sandy Longhorn said...

Maybe the quiet girl can be attributed to our recent snow, which reminded me of the winter Midwest as well.

Molly said...

No, not tired of the fairy tales. I'm very intrigued by the idea of cautionary tales set in a particular landscape.

Sandy Longhorn said...

Molly, cool. Thanks for the support!

Kristin said...

I will never get tired of these tales of fairy tale compositions!

Sandy Longhorn said...

Aw, Kristin, thanks!