Friday, October 14, 2011

Draft Process: Long Sliding Toward Oblivion

52º ~ a squirrel with its jaws pried wide open around some treasure cautiously descends the tree in the neighbor's yard, bright morning sun begins to make its way over my shoulder, the revival of Wednesday's rain remains, no breeze to speak of

It's been a wild week with the death of Lou-Lou, the hosting of another successful reading for the Big Rock Reading Series, and the inevitable collection of papers to be graded.  This afternoon, there is an appointment at the auto-shop for the 60,000 mile maintenance & oil change on my Honda.

Still, I put my butt in the chair this morning.  Knowing that I might struggle I bit, I wanted the most help possible, so I returned to Lucie Brock-Broido's The Master Letters, a book which has been fruitful in suggesting titles, but which is also jam-packed with words that ricochet around my brain and make sparks.

Here's a picture of today's process.

I've really begun to like the idea of mapping as I go.  So that when two words wind up on the page together and suggest something (this is the hard part to explain), I circle them or draw arrows or lines & whatnot so I don't lose the energy of that combination as I continue to sink into the draft.   I included the book as well so you can see that I mark up the poetry I read.  In fact, the more marks the higher on my list of favorites. 

Today's draft "Long Sliding Toward Oblivion" gets its title from a line in Brock-Broido's poem "Into Those Great Countries of the Blue Sky of Which We Don't Know Anything."  It ended up being an epistolary poem to the sickly speaker's unnamed, female mentor (playing off Emily Dickinson's & Lucie Brock-Broido's letters to an unnamed 'master').  It begins:

Dear Madame—

There is news.  A range of mystics has arrived.
They shuffled me off to a sepia room,

a soft sieve for my fevered breath.

So, my speaker continues to suffer from fevers and weird sleep issues and her mentor continues to remain at a distance, leading to a bit of pleading in the tone.  

One cool thing that happened in the drafting was this.  I had gathered the word 'dormant' and then later the word 'rumor' and they landed near each other on the page of my journal.  Seeing them together I loved the idea of a 'dormant rumor' so I circled them.  The idea seemed to fit the sickly speaker whose illness remains a mystery to her and her doctors (as far as she knows...with a first-person point-of-view, we really don't know what the doctors know).  Then, Brock-Broido has a poem called "Rampion," and I had forgotten the definition of that, so I had to look it up.  It's a Eurasian plant with edible roots.  When I saw the phrase 'edible roots' in the definition, I grabbed that too, loving the sound of it and the feel of it on my tongue.  Seriously, say it out loud a few times.  Wonderful collection of vowels and the hard consonants of the 'd' in 'edible' and 't' in 'root.'  So, I wrote that in the journal and then *SMASH* I saw the two phrases come together so that the speaker says:

...I sup / on the edible root of a dormant rumor, 

Moments of making like this remind me that I love being a poet.  Silly, maybe, but there you go.


Kathleen said...

And I love you being a poet in front of us!

Sandy Longhorn said...

Awww. Thanks, K.

Molly said...

I love such moments, too. Thanks for sharing yours.

P.S. Rampion is what Rapunzel's mother ate from the witches garden, leading to Rapunzel's imprisonment in the tower

Sandy Longhorn said...

Thanks, Molly, and thanks for the fairy tale connection.

Sandy Longhorn said...

Thanks, Molly, and thanks for the fairy tale connection.

Whimsy said...

Hi, Sandy. I don't hear much about LBB now-a-days, but I've always liked her. I had a course in Napa with Mary Jo Bang, and she raved about the The Master Letters.

I once wrote a poem about LBB and Steven Segal meeting for a tryst in the Museum of Modern Art. I loved writing it, but it never got accepted for publication. Can't imagine why :)

Sandy Longhorn said...

Hi, Whimsy. In a list of spoof t-shirt mottos for AWP that was going around last year, someone suggested:
"Whatever happened to Lucie Brock-Broido?"

It makes me sad that others aren't reading her.

Your poem with LBB & SS sounds like a trip. :)

Anonymous said...

I love that feeling as well. I love being awash with language!

Sandy Longhorn said...

Thanks, Tara! Great description of the feeling.