Friday, September 16, 2011

Draft Process: Becoming the Sickly Speaker

58ยบ ~ overcast, 30% chance of rain we would welcome

Dear Reader, it seems I have become the sickly speaker of my recent poems.  As many of you know, since the beginning of August, all of my drafts have featured the same speaker, a woman who is hospitalized for some strange and unknown illness.  No, I'm not in the hospital or even close to it.  My nagging sinus infection has been confounded by a head cold.  I'm whiny.

Still, after a knock down week of launching the reading series, I told myself last night to be prepared to write a draft today.  I made a note to myself, "Draft a Poem" and left it on my keyboard so I would see it first thing. 

It worked again.

At the reading, we talked about B-I-C (butt-in-chair), and you know what?  It's rarely failed me.  Not never failed me, but rarely.

It worked again.

I sat down at the desk with cold medicine taken, a cup of coffee, and an aching arm.  On the night of the reading, I fell up the stairs.  Yes, 'up' the stairs.  My right arm bore the brunt of the fall and I have a wicked purple bruise in the rectangular shape of a stair edge.  The bruise is almost exactly half way between my elbow and my shoulder.  My arm hurts!  I'm sort of surprised by how much it hurts as I didn't feel like I fell that hard.  

Back to the draft: I began by reading some of the poems in Sarah J. Sloat's new chapbook Excuse me while I wring this long swim out of my hair (dancing girl press, 2011) and collecting some nouns and verbs.  While I love Sloat's poems, nothing was jumping up for a title.  So, when I had a page full of words, I went back to Lucie Brock-Broido's The Master Letters in search of a title.  I found one in the poem "Housekeeping," which includes this line, "You have been outside / The body now."

Today's draft is "Having Been Outside the Body" and is another epistolary poem to the speaker's female mentor.  It begins:

Dear Madam--

The progress of August is past.
The chart reads relapse.

In terms of form, the poem contains both couplets and single-line stanzas.  The bruise makes an appearance in stanza two.  I first searched for images of bruises, but they were too ugly to share.  Instead, here's an image of a the rhinovirus, cause of the common cold, damn it!

from Science Photo Library, click for link

4 comments:

Kathleen said...

Oh, I am so sorry about your fall! (But how nice to fall up instead of down!) And the head cold and sinus infection, of course. I share in your whininess.

Love this process note, as always. I gave assignments to my poetry workshop based on some of Sloat's poems (also the subject of an upcoming Escape Into Life blog!).

(And I think the Facebook EIL editor will post your Connotation interview on Facebook, too. Congrats to you and all on that!)

Sandy Longhorn said...

Kathleen, thanks and thanks and thanks!!

Molly said...

Wow, the rhinovirus is really ugly too. Sorry to hear you're under the weather & injured to boot. Love those first lines... Get well soon.

Sandy Longhorn said...

Thanks, Molly. I got your email and will be in touch soon!