Sunday, June 1, 2014

Drafting Days: Touchstone Poets

75º ~ working on our sixth straight day of seeping rain, little sun, all is mossy and green

Today, I'm thankful for touchstone poets.

I'm still casting about for my groove, having caught it briefly a few days ago and then lost it. Today, I feared it was gone forever, but then, wahooooza, I found it again.

Last night I remembered that in the past I often told myself, "I'm going to write a poem in the morning," before going to sleep, and that I'd had some success with this. So, I did it last night, and I repeated it through my morning routine. Then, I put my butt in the chair (B-I-C) and picked up the nearest book. I read it with little interest. The poems weren't really my thing, even though the language was interesting and the ideas clever. Still, I gave it the college try and I repeated my goal to myself.

Eventually, I realized I had given the book a solid effort and put it down. An image flashed in my head, the image of my bookshelf and the spines of a couple of books I'd brushed past the day before when putting another book away. Aha! I thought, I'm going to re-read Lisa Russ Spaar, who like Lucie Brock-Broido, is someone whose poetry often charges through me and sends words tumbling out of me and onto the page. Why didn't I just start by reading someone whose work I already knew would do this?

See, I have this type A personality problem. I have this towering stack of poetry books that are unread, and I feel like I have to read the new ones before turning back to the old ones. But, as I was repeating my "I'm going to write a poem this morning" mantra and being frustrated, I realized that these should be two separate activities. The reading to inspire new drafts works best with writers and books I've already read and loved. The reading of unread books is to discover others who might fall into that camp later.

In any case, I opened Blue Venus and got all the way to the second poem, when a line of my own came bursting out ("When all the gods have gone to ground..."). Shazam. After days of forcing lines, stumbling and stuttering through the process, today a draft flew down the page. OK, so it's another short one, only 12 lines, but again, it felt "right."

So thank you to those touchstone poets, for teaching me over and over to trust the process and for the poems, both yours and mine.

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