Friday, September 23, 2011

Draft Process: Before & After Photos

55º ~ it is hard to express the joy of these cooler mornings after a summer of endless, beating heat, cloudy today, foggy too, wonderful soaking rain last evening, replenishing us all

I was eager to return to the desk today, to set aside all the clutter and muck of day-to-day life and just be in a world of words and my imagination.  Of course, I'm not good at completely divorcing myself from my life (thus there is a bit of autobiography in nearly everything I write, but just a bit, don't be saying the speaker of my poems is me, please).  Therefore, today's draft continues with the sickly speaker and is informed both by my recent battle with sinus infection / head cold and Lou-Lou's seeming relapse that is puzzling the vets.  (Yes, that is plural.  There are three doctors on her case.  We are lucky!) 

Here is how I prepared to clear my mind, to make a path for poetry.

With the desk clear and Aaron Copland's Billy the Kid on the iTunes, I sat down with Camille Dungy's books.  I bought her two most recent volumes at the reading I attended: Suck on the Marrow (Red Hen Press) and Smith Blue (Southern Illinois University Press). 

I've really fallen in love with my current draft process.  Read and collect words haphazardly in the journal.  Read and collect lines that hint at titles that might work for my sickly speaker.  Let the title and the word bank coalesce into the beginning of a draft.  Knock on wood, it hasn't let me down yet.  Today, I added a new twist.  As I collected the words I started adding arrows and circling two words together that jumped out at me.  My journal page is a lovely mess.

I started with Dungy's Suck on the Marrow but put it aside as the subject matter is the terrible history of slavery and much of the language is so charged with that history that I was having trouble divorcing individual words of that charge.  This is not a slight on the book at all, and I look forward to reading it for its own sake very soon.  Smith Blue, while still quite political, is a book of conservation, recording what is being lost in our world due to climate change, war, and the other devastations we visit upon ourselves.

In fact, that word "devastation" is part of the line that led to the title of the poem.  I read the first few poems and gathered words at a furious pace.  Then, in the poem "Daisy Cutter," I found this line "You taught me devastation / ... ."  Dungy's sentence continues, but I was caught by just those four words and I made them the title of the draft: "You Taught Me Devastation."  It begins:

Madam, it is your skill set to which I cling.
Most ingloriously, I confess.

Again, the poem is drafted in couplets.  They seem to fit this speaker's voice so perfectly.  I hope I'm not missing an opportunity by sticking with them so much, but time will tell.  This speaker is a bit disjointed and abrupt.  She makes associative leaps, and the brevity of couplets works for that.

So, this is what the desk looks like after the process is over and the draft as a whole has been printed.  Yes, Lou-Lou insisted on "helping" me from start to finish today, although now that the process is over, she has disappeared.  Muse anyone?

As always, thanks for reading.  Knowing someone is out there, wondering if I drafted on Friday, helps. 


Quintilian B. Nasty said...

That invention process reminds me of the idea mapping/clustering we probably both use with our students.

Visual learning becomes you.

Sandy Longhorn said...

Ah, yes, Q., exactly!

Thanks for the kind words.

Kathleen said...

Another great process story. Also, I thought of you when I read "Sinusitus," a poem by Hannah Stephenson at The Storialist.

Sandy Longhorn said...

Ah, to be remembered for my chronic sinusitus! :)

Thanks for the kind words, K.

SarahJane said...

My daughter Luisa goes by "Lulu," so I am wishing your kitty an extra special "gute Besserung."

Sandy Longhorn said...

Thanks, Sarah!