Saturday, January 28, 2012


I'm feeling a little lonely for my manuscript. All the before work, during lunch, Saturday morning time in which I might write is being taken up by a book review, recommendation letters, and a contest that I'm judging. And then Thursday, I had an idea for a new class I'd like to teach.

On the way to work yesterday morning, instead of thinking about a poem, I was thinking about this blog entry and wondering if I should mention how it started snowing big impossible flakes 20 minutes before I had to leave. For some reason, the snow didn't seem invasive and onerous as it often does.

And now the snow is back this morning (not needing any inspiration). One thing I'd like to do when I squeeze through the impasse of other obligations is to write a poem like "February Report on Conditions in the Interior" by Jeff Gundy. It has a form that is not a form, a series of numbered observations or "conditions." Nice.

Friday, January 20, 2012

How We Think in My Head

Here's my informal (post-it) list thinking about the ms:
sound--I used to only be able to revise if the new line had the same rhythm as the old
intention--the poem's? mine? both?
meaning-ability--or as a poet-friend calls it "aboutness"
coherence (web of)
repeating words

also, order
short/long or maybe density/relief

Usually, by the time I've gotten to the point of putting a manuscript together, I've already banged on the poems and held them up to the light. But there are still little sore spots that I hope can be fixed and the quandaries caused by good criticism. So these are the things I think about, not in the order of importance.

This morning I was mulling over the first three poems. The first poem standing alone outside a section--should I do that? (yes) Deleted 4 words over two poems. Revisited a discussion about the end of "The Lost Predella": I don't dislike either of these [stanzas] but they don't feel like an end. Maybe this [stanza] belongs to another poem? Is it too soft? Should the poem be left in early turmoil? (turmoil--such a great word). . . . Literalizing it is ruining it.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


I teach creative writing, and after the fall semester was over, I realized what I should have told my students--the white space inside the poem is what's important. This was a reaction to centered text and uninspired line breaks. But it also seems evocative in exactly the right way for someone (me) who wants to puzzle over her writing decisions.

Right now I'm working on a manuscript of poems, and I spent the morning thinking about order and beginning the read for final revisions. I questioned "peter pan collars" in a poem. Should it be capitalized? A few lines later I'm capitalizing Butterick. (Just an insert to assure you very few of my poems have to do with sewing.) says Peter Pan, but then I rejected accuracy for the sake of sense. Butterick is a brand name and peter pan merely a style. No caps.

So stuff like that. And maybe remarks about the weather and what I'm reading.

Tabula rasa. Space for something to happen. The landscape of poetry which often seems as if its forming in my head.