Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Day Two: Draft-a-Day

80 deg ~ bright sun lighting up the tree leaves (I first wrote tea leaves), a cardinal calling what-cheer, cheer, cheer ~ yesterday a pair of Carolina chickadees outside the window, today replaced by a chipmunk scaling the bushy tree

Amazingly, I was again able to produce a draft with relatively little hesitation (knock wood).  I guess it's true that bouts of non-writing can lead to bouts of writing.  (There is hope!)  I'm a little dizzy with the high of having written.  I'm writing without any project or topic in mind and just seeing where the words take me.  Lovely, lovely feeling. 

Today's draft is a mix of two moments/events from yesterday. 

First, after I finished drafting yesterday, I went back and started blog surfing.  I found the new prompt at Big Tent Poetry: write a pantoum that somehow addresses a personal anger.  I printed out the prompt, mostly to remind myself of the pantoum form.  I was heartened by the sentence:  "Pantoums aren't as scary as one might think."  As my Dear Devoted Readers must know, I am no formalist, and in truth, forms tend to scare the Dickinson out of me (hee hee).  But, I knew that I'd need something to start with today, and I figured if I blew it, that would be okay, b/c I'm on this 14 day journey and not all 14 drafts will be winners.

Second, my good friend Anne Greenwood (artist, bee- and chicken-keeper, gardener, and so much more) came for a visit yesterday.  We had a wonderful lunch and then headed down to the Arkansas Arts Center to see "The Miniature Worlds of Bruce Metcalf."  Metcalf is a studio jeweler (a phrase I hadn't heard before) whose work spans five decades and is amazing for its intricacies and its visual poetry.  I went so far as to buy the exhibit catalogue, which is something I've never done before.  I was particularly taken by a piece from 1980 titled "Vessel with a Cargo of Light."  Sadly, I can't find an image of it online, but here's a link to Metcalf's website, which includes samples from each decade.  I've linked to the 80's and the top two images are from the same family as the one that inspired me.  The work in the photo here is "Two Doves in a Private Garden" from 1999, taken from Metcalf's website as well.  Like many of Metcalf's truly miniature pieces, this functions as a brooch, although Anne and I wondered about the weight of the pieces.  One of the drawbacks to museums is not being able to touch.  I'd gladly don white cotton gloves or whatever protective gear required to touch paintings and sculptures and all the other categories of art held behind protective barriers. 

So, I rose this morning early and pulled out the catalogue from Metcalf's exhibit and the description of the pantoum.  I knew immediately that the anger angle didn't really interest me, but I wondered about using one of Metcalf's longer titles as one of my repeating lines in the poem.  I started flipping through the plates and when I saw "Vessel with a Cargo of Light" I knew I had my line.  That phrase is the fourth line of the first stanza, thus becoming the third line of the second stanza as well.  At first I was stymied because the art focuses on an oceanic image.  I tried writing from that perspective but it didn't feel genuine, since I've mostly lived as a landlocked person (save 18 months outside of Boston, even then I wasn't near enough to see the ocean everyday).  After scribbling around a bit, I found a new direction: a landlocked girl who romanticizes the oceanic and feels dessicated by being landlocked.  (Not sure I'm really good at boiling a poem down to a descriptive sentence, but that's close.)  The poem is called "Pantoum for the Landlocked Girl" for now, with an epigraph naming Metcalf and the piece that launched the poem.

As for the form, I found it a bit constraining, as I normally do.  However, I can admit that it forced me to think in a different way and perhaps some lines emerged in this draft that wouldn't have without the form.  I will definitely let this one sit for a bit and then come back to it and try to figure out if the form works or if I need to revise away from it.

Woo Hoo!


Kristin Berkey-Abbott said...

I'm finding your draft a day posts inspiring. Maybe I'll be rebellious at work and craft a poem this afternoon (my 19 year old self shakes her head at what constitutes rebellion these days, but I'll send her off to listen to some classic punk rock tunes while I write!).

Sandy Longhorn said...

Aw, thanks, Kristin! While it's not necessarily classic punk, I had a vision of Billy Idol's Rebel Yell.

Anne Greenwood said...

Yes, the sketchbooks were as fun as the brooches and small installations. Wish they could have offered a facsimile of his sketchbook for flipping purposes.

Had a great time. Love the idea that after all that wall-sized modernism, we are going back to the very small. They were so intimate.

And props to Sandy for getting me to drive to the Arkansas Arts Center (something I should do more often)

Sandy Longhorn said...

Anne, of course, a facsimile would have been perfect! There are some images from the sketchbooks in the catalogue if you want to look at them sometime.

"Intimate" is exactly the right word to describe the work.

Quintilian B. Nasty said...

Man, I love it when the writing just flows like that. I'm constantly rediscovering that writing is an act of discovery and a "mode of thinking" (Janet Emig).

Sandy Longhorn said...

Q. I preach "act of discovery" to my students. It's lovely when it's really happening!

Sherry O'Keefe said...

ah, a vessel with a cargo of light! i agree with the others, your posts encourage and inspire. that catalog sounds wonderful- i love the way you have finally purchased a copy.

Sandy Longhorn said...

Sherry, thanks for stopping by!