Saturday, February 7, 2015

Draft Notes: All Hail Molly Spencer

46º ~ gusting, sharp winds promising to bring a high in the mid-60s, the sun just now beating out the gray overcast and spilling in/over the desk

Dear reader, today, I drafted a poem. It may be a "shitty first draft" as Anne Lamott encourages us to allow in her book, Bird by Bird, but it's a draft. I am finely feeling well enough to sit at the desk and do more than read and scratch at lines. For that I am thankful. I am also thankful for my poet-friend, Molly Spencer. Without her, I wouldn't have the draft I have today.  (Here's a link to Molly's fine poem, "Aubade with Transverse Orientation," which appeared in Heron Tree.)

To explain: Even in this time of non-writing, I've been gathering inspiration. One place I gather such is from Molly's blog, The Stanza. On 16 January 2015, Molly wrote about her friend Deborah Keenan's book, From Tiger to Prayer, a collection of writing prompts, and I followed the little lightning zap in my gut that said "get that book, now!" I'm so happy to have it, not only for the prompts but also for the discovery of Keenan as a collage artist as well.

Then, on 23 January 2015, Molly wrote about the use (and strength of) images to convey meaning. She used a poem from Catherine Barnett's Into Perfect Spheres Such Holes are Pierced (Alice James, 2004) to illustrate. Again, I followed the zap in my gut and immediately requested a copy of Barnett's book via the Interlibrary Loan program at my local public library. (Huzzah for public libraries and librarians!)

This morning, I read Barnett's book and was blown away by the power of the images, just as Molly promised. After I finished, I did a quick word bank, flipping through the book haphazardly. Then, I started thumbing through From Tiger to Prayer, definitely skeptical that I would be able to get a poem drafted today. Skeptical, that is, until I came upon this prompt: "Write seven poems in a week. Each poem begins with the word 'today.'"

And there I went, to the daunting blank page of my journal, the blank page following the word bank. From the corner of my eye I caught the word "clock" from the word bank, and truth be told, that's the only word I needed to spark the draft. It begins:

Today, there is a clock
carving time into the branches
of the dead tree that threatens
to fall. By this I mean


We actually did have a huge dead tree threatening our house until last week when the tree cutters came to cut it down and feed it to the wood chipper. The tree (and the clock...yes, it's a real, functioning clock in the poem) come to stand for the work of home ownership. Oh, and my recent, nagging, bronchial illness manages to assert itself in the poem as well.

So, there's the messy, sausage- / law- / poem-making process for the day...and that's not even the half of it. Later, if the poem survives its infancy, there will be heaps of revision. Wahoooza.


Molly said...

WOOHOO! So happy about your draft and that Deborah's and Catherine Barnett's book were a part of it!

drew said...

Fantastic, Sandy!

I, too, am a fan of Molly Spencer. She always got the "good stuff" and is so generous in sharing the knowledge she's acquired.

Sandy Longhorn said...

Thanks, Molly & Drew.

All hail!