Friday, June 1, 2012

Draft Process: A Febrile Body Defined

68º ~ sweet, sweet relief through tomorrow before the heat builds back ~ wearing a light sweatshirt but with all the windows open, cats & humans happy with the northern breeze blown off course ~ just a drop of rain yesterday as the front moved through ~ beginning to feel parched

Today, I'm drafting and posting from my iPad, a new adventure, as my beloved iMac is at the Apple Store for diagnostics. Blogger and iPad are not easy on the HTML, so there are no italics for the titles of the books I reference below. Mea Culpa. I have a goal in mind for June but am reluctant to put it in writing lest I scare it away. (Crazy writer brain!) Still, I'm happy to report that I drafted a new poem today for the sickly speaker book.

I've been toying with the idea of writing several interludes, pieces not in the speaker's voice, pieces that will serve as markers for the narrative. Thinking of Traci Brimhall's book Rookery reminded me of how she breaks each section with a poem based on the different definitions of "rookery." Rather than sticking to one word and redefining it several times, I made a list of some key words for the sickly speaker, including fever, body, marrow, donor, and transfusion. This reminded me of A. Van Jordan's M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A, in which he writes prose poems based on definitions.

So, when I sat down to my journal this morning, I pulled out my Shorter Oxford English Dictionary A - M and started with "febrile" and "fever," Alas, those two words do not have lengthy definitions and I ran aground. Then, I flipped to "body," seeing as it was housed in the same volume and N-Z was three feet away, still on the shelf. Eureka! Without reading, I could see that the definition spanned several columns...a good sign for mining. Then, I read the first part of the definition "flesh as opposed to soul or spirit" and I was off. I drafted the first eight lines in the journal and then turned to the iPad, using Pages, which required some adjustments on my part, but otherwise worked beautifully.

The draft begins like this.

Flesh, as opposed to soul or spirit,
become an isntrument of heat,
the material being, the main portion
a tract for flames in the veins
or running along the false-rouged skin.

The rest of the draft goes on (not in couplets!) for 25 lines separated into four stanzas of unequal length, although the line lengths remain about the same throughout. As I drafted, I picked phrases from the definitions of "body" that fit the speaker's state and then elaborated on those phrases by adding images of heat/fire/fever. For now, I'm using a phrase from one of the first poems I wrote in the sickly speaker's voice, "a febrile habit," as part of the title, which ended up as "A Febrile Habit Defined." I didn't want to go full tilt with the definition poem and use parts of speech, pronunciation, dictionary formats, etc., but I did want to allude to the source of the poem. This will also set up any other poems I write in this way so that the titles would end with "Defined" as well. And I think that if I plan to use this poem in the book, I'll need at least a few others to sprinkle throughout.

The only real bummer is that my printer, while wireless, is not AirPrint compatible, so I can't print this draft until the iMac issue is resolved. Rest assured, I've emailed it to myself to save it from a sudden catastrophic technology loss. :)

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