Friday, April 30, 2010

The 30th day: a ten-minute spill

Well, here we are on the final day of NaPoWriMo. I'm glad I did this: some real crappy drafts, yes, but a few that feel promising, definitely more than I'd have written without the daily public deadline.

Which I do not plan to adhere to: at least not the public part, though the daily aspect has certainly made me more consciously aware of language and its little surprises, something I thought had become part of my nature but which, I realize now, had been dulled (by not enough reading, by isolation from other poets, by--ehh, we'll leave it at that).

So here's my last offering, the only poem this month generated by an exercise--specifically, Rita Dove's "Ten-Minute Spill"--though I kept tinkering with it past the initial ten minute mark (more like an hour and ten minutes):

:: bloop ::

Thanks for reading, y'all, and for the encouragement to hang with this project.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Day 29: on synaesthesia

Busy day today, and I'm late heading up to campus. This is as far as I can get this one to go for right now:

:: bloop ::

. . . And that's all he wrote of that one. Still grading papers here and not much time for writing, but I'll give it my best tomorrow morning and see what comes of the final--yahoo, the final!--poem-a-day post.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Day 28: Putting on the Patsy Cline

Putting on the Patsy Cline is a phrase that's been stuck in my head for a few years now, one I want to do something with--I think it may be a chapbook title if I can ever write the rest of the poems that comprise that collection. Scavenging through my journals this morning in search of a line to launch a fresh poem, I ran across the phrase again, as well as a line that our neighbor's youngest daughter uttered while trying to reach our cat: Allie, don't you want to pet me? And that's the line that started off this poem:

:: bloop ::

Well, that's that: two days to go. No idea what I'm writing tomorrow, but this has been an awesome experience and I want to thank y'all now for your supportive enthusiasm.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Day 27: Adrienne Rich

I started this draft in June then abandoned it, so it's not "fresh" like the others, but it's all I have to offer today as we near the end of NaPoWriMo. The poem borrows language from Adrienne Rich's "XIII: Dedications" in An Atlas of the Difficult World. "Borrows" is too mild a word; the poem is literally constructed around passages from Rich's poem to the extent that I'm nervous about posting it, nervous at using so much language from another source. I do think, though, that there might be something new in what's created here. And I love, love, love the source poem.

:: bloop ::

Thanks for reading, y'all.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Day 26: Villanelle on a line from Ned Rorem

A few years ago in my creative writing class, I gave my students a three-page list of lines I had collected from various sources, both poetry and prose, as potential "starters" for poems. This is one of the methods I use to write collaboratively with another poet: it brings a third voice to the table, and each of us responds both to this initial voice/statement and to each other as the poem progresses.

One of my students wrote a powerful, beautiful villanelle from a line by Ned Rorem, a line I'd been carrying around in my head for a few years: Here is the boy who will breathe my air. He wrote it in response to an ultrasound image of his soon-to-be-born son. His poem was at once a celebration and an acknowledgment of his own mortality. In many ways, his poem is better than the one I finally wrote this Saturday.

I didn't post this on Saturday because I'd written something else as well, but also because it's about a particularly crushing moment in one's career and--because anyone who knows me knows where I've worked for the past ten years--I didn't want to hurt any feelings.

But fuck that. It's a poem, for Pete's sake, and it's driven as much by its form and meter and rhyme scheme as by any "truth" at its heart. And the scene it describes happened only in my head, not where I work(ed). So all disclaimers aside, here's the villanelle I have been trying to write:

:: bloop ::

Thanks for reading, y'all. See you tomorrow.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Day 25: Bathroom Window, Cat

An attempt at a more minimalist approach to my usual narrative bent:

:: bloop ::

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Day 24: Late Testament

:: bloop ::

Thanks for reading. Six days to go.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Day 23: on a line by Gertrude Stein

Stein wrote of Glenway Westcott in her Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, "He has a certain syrup but it does not pour." From which I made this today:

:: bloop ::

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Read this now: Terrance Hayes

"The Golden Shovel"

The top of my head flew off. My brain is still fizzing.

Day 22: The Fires

I was thinking about Hurricane Andrea from a few years ago, how folks in Florida were practically praying for the storm to bring rain to douse their wildfires. That satellite image of Andrea's noncompliance. And so came up with this:

:: bloop ::

Wow. Only one week to go.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Day 21: Practice

This old guy is in my head today. Who knows why. Here he is:

:: bloop ::

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Day 20: Deer & Dog

I missed yesterday's post, but here's a big ol' mess of a poem draft to make up for it:

:: bloop ::

Thanks for reading it, y'all.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The 18th day: 1965

Not much I can say about this one. I've been thinking a lot about the store my mother worked at when I was a kid:

:: bloop ::

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Day seventeen: back into it

I went verseless yesterday. There's a lot going on right now, but no excuses: I just couldn't get to it. Here, though, is a fresh draft drawn from a messy block of a freewrite in my journal that I wrote in response to finding a dead hummingbird on the sidewalk years ago:

:: bloop ::

See you tomorrow.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Late in the middle, I steal another line


An inventive young lad from Bombay
used to sit on his elbows to pray.
Though scorned and abused
he steadfastly refused
to pray the traditional way.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Day 14: five o'clock muse

Well, the last student conference of the day went well. I gathered up my must-do pile and closed the door. I sat and thought. I turned to a line I carry in my head, a line from a poem by Bill Olsen. And twenty minutes later, I have this:

:: bloop ::

Thanks for reading. See you tomorrow at the halfway point.

Day 14: waiting

A full day of student conferences: their major essays are due next week. No poem yet. Hoping to carve a niche from my schedule somehow today to close the door & summon the muse...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

13th day

Nearly halfway there. Here's a draft I wrote just before going to bed last night:

:: bloop ::

Thanks for reading, y'all.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The eleventh day: between the lines

Just this:

:: bloop ::

Glad to hear so many of you had good times at AWP. Hope everyone is safely home soon. See you tomorrow.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

NaPoWriMo: Day Ten

Today has been full of setbacks and delays, but I didn't forget about the daily poem. This one kept morphing on me: every time I thought it had solidified into a draft, I'd go back to tinkering with a word, a line, and off the poem would race again. Even now, I'm afraid I've tried to curb it, rein in its energy just for the sake of having something to post by the end of the day. So here it is, without further apology:

:: bloop ::

Thanks, y'all, and see you tomorrow.

Friday, April 09, 2010

The ninth day: Awe, Woe, Rue

This poem started with a photograph and owes a debt to Facebook, which provided the venue for some private dialogue that, were I not a writer, should remain private. But I'm a writer, and I confess to having felt that familiar split viewpoint even as the dialogue occurred over the course of a few days: part of me in it, part of me already tinkering with its structure . . . This is what we do. Does it change the past, set right a wrong, to create of it a small, made thing? No matter how well- or poorly-made, the poem that exists as the means to an end is a tragic mistreatment of memory. If nothing else, my goal with this one is to achieve some empathy. I've already talked too much about it, more than this little poem has "earned."

:: bloop ::

Thanks for reading. Back at it tomorrow.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Eight in eight

Last night I couldn't sleep and kept reaching for my notebook in the dark, writing down lines that kept coming to my head. This morning I tried to decipher the notes. There's something there, something mean and angry. This is not that poem. This is a memory from when I lived in Houston:

:: bloop ::

Seeya tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Day Seven

Seven poems in seven days: I can't possibly maintain this pace. Can anyone?

Wishing everyone at AWP in Denver a great conference. Since I last went, the bulk of my acquaintance-making has been virtual (though no less "real"). Maybe next year in DC we'll all meet for realzes.

Here's this morning's poem:

:: bloop ::

Thanks for reading. See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Day Six

As I worked on this poem this morning, I thought at one point that it wanted to be a sonnet, but thirteen lines feels right. This poem is for Karl Patten:

:: bloop ::

See ya tomorrow.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Day Five

I think I know where this one might be going, but for the moment this is all I can come up with. Let's file it as a scene in search of a conflict, a starter block. A key?

:: bloop ::

See you tomorrow.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Day Four

Okay, this one's not for the youngsters, but I had to pursue the image. Here we go:

:: bloop ::

Tomorrow's Monday; it'll be interesting to see if I can keep this going during a regular workweek. Stay tuned; see you tomorrow.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Day Three

The fact that I dreamed last night about writing today's poem seems like clear evidence that this process is starting to get to me. I've dreamed many times about writing, but rarely does any element of the dream translate to my waking life. In this case, what I remember vaguely is the process: a mash-up of sorts, a random pairing of ten intentional lines (ten in all, written toward some intent or direction) with other lines pulled from--what? In my dream, they bobbed and swirled around me, easy pickings. Alas, none of these actual lines has stayed (consciously) in my head.

So here we go, blindly:

:: bloop ::

See ya tomorrow.

Friday, April 02, 2010

NaPoWriMo: Day Two

Last evening we ate out on the back patio for the first time this spring: a beautiful day, leafbuds popping open all around us--the euonymus hedge, the curly willow, the Japanese maple, the crabapple all greening in slow motion. I wondered what it might be like to actually hear all that rustling and unfolding, the clicking of clasps as stem by stem unlatched and opened into the warming air. Such beautiful late-day light in the buds of the little quince bush beneath the hedges. Would it be a gift, such synaesthesia? Or would it be cacophany?

Here's my poem draft for Day Two of National Poetry Writing Month:

:: bloop ::

See you tomorrow.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

NaPoWriMo: Day One

Happy April, everyone. It's a stunningly beautiful day in my neighborhood, and I'm hoping to leave work early enough to maybe snag a little hammock time.

Congrats to Todd Davis, whose poem "The Saints of April" is scheduled for today on Garrison Keillor's The Writer's Almanac. Here's a link to that file:

(Thanks to Katie for the heads up!)

And great good luck to all the poets participating in NaPoWriMo this month. Here's my own first effort:

:: bloop ::

See you tomorrow.