Monday, July 7, 2008
42: Cloquet at Night
Tonight: poems read aloud, feeding the beast, the quiet of the forest around us. I brought Harry and Lisel.
So many bits in my notebook to share:
- The point of being a poet isn't to have an emotion but to get those emotions out into the world. (paraphrasing Valery, I believe)
- How do you know what to critique, to respond to? Part of it is knowing how to tweak--that intuition, as a composer, you know you want a trumpet sound as opposed to a flute, but it's also the familiarity you have with the poems that you love and the intimacy you gain in regular reading.
- In revision, in critique, ask yourself: Where are you most close with the poem? (And where do you lose that closeness?)
- Poetry has always played with hesitation and flow.
- Lose the dignity of the present version and play--try removing every other line, for example, changing tenses, rearranging lines and line breaks, start at the end and work to the beginning, etc.
- That beautiful quote of Michaelangelo about liberating the statue from inside the marble.
- Writing a poem is like getting from one bank to another by jumping from one moving boat to another (paraphrasing someone--).
- Faulkner: kill your darlings
- Henry James: woo the combinations
- MDB confessed to Merwin he was having some kind of anxiety and Merwin assured him he just hadn't yet found his myth.
I wish, at this hour, my brain were a bit more coherent so I could share with you my thoughts on all these fragments, these snippets I jotted down in the margins, some repeats of phrases I gathered in my less concentrated undergraduate years, some new moments for me. There's something about rediscovery that is akin to re-reading at just the right moment in time. When the world speaks to you, even when you are sleeping.
Tonight, I will dream of Frida Kahlo and the lace of treetops. I will dream of Norway pine and the slow crawl of ticks beneath plastic water cups. I will imagine myself exactly here, at this place, trying to take in every moment as I should. Tomorrow, I will wake early, I will go on a walk, I will write bits in my notebook, I will open myself up to the possibilities of the written word. And I will breathe this fresh air, carry it home with me, keep it close, in my pocket.