77º ~ gray cloud cover that teases with a 20% chance of storms, last evening all thunder and lightning, no rain, still the unkillable rose blooms with new flowers
Today's draft was actually begun yesterday afternoon, after I finished reading Emily Rosko's brilliant book Prop Rockery. I posted my mini-mini-response on Facebook, but here's the gist. Rosko's book is one power-packed page turner not of narrative but of lyrics crafted in language that leaps from the page. The book draws a large inspiration from Shakespeare and his contemporaries, with some of the poems taking their titles from lines from plays and poems of that era. Yet, the book is wholly modern and at heart begs the question of self-concern versus empathy, both in terms of personal relationships and our more global relationship with the earth and its flora and fauna.
When I sat down to read, I knew that I'd want to mine some of Rosko's words, so I had my journal by my side; however, the poems were so engrossing that I couldn't stop to pick out the words I liked. Instead, when I finished the book, I flipped back to the beginning and began stealing. As in the past, as I jotted words willy-nilly on the page (I must have blank page journals as the lines are too restrictive), I saw pairs and then groups that sparked on the page, so I drew arrows and made circles and boxes. Then, without my even realizing it, the first lines began to appear, and I wasn't even trying to draft a poem! So, many thanks Emily Rosko! The sickly speaker took ahold of those words and sang.
The draft picks up on one of my questions from the list I posted yesterday. More flowers? In some of the opening poems, the sickly speaker talks about a garden room at the hospital/institution or about flowers being brought to her room. In some of her poems about the woman she called mother by mistake, there are images of flowers or trees. When I did my big read-through last week (or the week before...all blurs), I realized that she would want a return to the flowers as she became more healthy. The word "flower" did appear in my list from Prop Rockery, along with "statuary, crown, fire, festive, muzzle, temptress, estranged, and dominion" among all the others. This is the group of words that got connected by lines and circles/squares and began the poem. The draft now begins:
In the oceanic light, the arboretum at night,
caught in the act, scissors and blooms,
..........fingers stem-stained, thorn-stung,
I become marble skinned, a statuary body
(Those ellipses are only intended to show the indent of that line. Normally I can change their color to match the background, but I can't find that option right now.) The draft weighs in at 16 lines, following the pattern above, beginning and ending on a single line. I know this is a risky form, as each line must bear its full weight, but I feel so much more secure in this form than in the longer, more tranditional stanzas from yesterday. I love the breath held in the white space. Also, this poem contains the energy of Emily Rosko's syntax, which is spectacular. I have a note taped up near my writing space. It contains a quote from Yeats that I have never been able to verify. I read it in a blog or article but can't find the primary text. It states, "Revise in the interest of a more passionate syntax." That has fit the sickly speaker so well. She speaks in an uncommon way, with fragments and leaps, and I feel like I'd drifted a bit from that. Rosko's book was a great return to that style. And now, I've just added "after Emily Rosko" to the poem, given that I seem to have drawn so much inspiration from her book.
This time the title is all me. It came effortlessly this morning before I'd even turned to the iPad to start working on the draft. It goes back to the idea of hunger now that the speaker is healing. Also, in one of the early poems, she gets in trouble with the staff b/c she eats the flowers in the garden room. So, today's draft became "Awash in Hunger for the Pistil and the Stamen." Funnily enough, I kept insisting that it be "pistol" instead of "pistil" and the word still doesn't look right to me. I actually had to look it up to convince myself. I find it interesting that this poem began with stolen language and then doesn't have a stolen title like nearly every other poem in the series does. Love that mysterious muse at work.