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.

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