I’m beginning to worry that I have lost the ability to just write a poem. Yesterday I was supposed to be working on a poem that I’ve had in my “working on it” file since 2009. It’s a nice piece, and is going in interesting directions. Reading Lynn Davidson’s Common Land (I’m reviewing it for Takahē) had sparked a memory, so I spent a chunk of Tuesday scribbling notes, and looking forward to spending the forecast snowstorm sitting in front of the fire, writing.
No idea if this will turn into anything much, but it’s kinda fun. I’m using an exercise that has been useful in the past – called “Multi-media Patchwork”, it apparently originated with American poet Thomas Lynch, although I came across it in Matthew Sweeney and John Hartley Williamson’s Writing Poetry. You take one thing from the room you’re in, one thing from outside the room, one thing from a print source (newspaper, book, shopping list, whatever) and one from television. Then you write a poem incorporating all four things, and following some sort of formal constraint. I used it pretty successfully to write “Silver”, which was published in JAAM 29 last year (for those of you who have a copy to hand). I’m also dipping in and out of Fleur Adcock’s “The Ex-Queen Among the Astronomers”, although I don’t plan on my poem being quite so sexual. (But then again, I hadn’t planned on any of my other poems being that way, so this too may end up needing plain paper packaging.)
I know the rough shape of the poem, and am having way too much fun playing with working in as many words the the sound “ee” as possible. Not to mention frittering away hours looking up things like where between Fairlie and Lake Tekapo you could conceivably strand tourists while still having them able to buy a cup of tea (nowhere, which is most inconvenient).