Grief & Poetry in Progress

****"Untitled (Head of a Baby)" **** by Ron Mueck

Seventeen weeks since my mother died.

If my grief were a baby, it wouldn’t be eating solid food yet.

If my grief were a grapevine, the fruit would only now be ripening.

But my grief will not grow, or rot on the vine.

If anything has changed, it’s my understanding of how to approach it: carefully. At an angle. Not for nothing did ED say, “Tell all the truth but tell it slant.”

Summoning the memory of my mother’s last moments helps make her loss real, but I can only muster a glance from the corners of my eyes. To face this memory head-on is as devastating now as it was in March.

Approaching new writing can work like that, too. The glare of the blank page can be daunting if you don’t have an idea in your head, just the itch to get going already.

Ted Hughes draft

Yesterday I read a poem I really liked, but felt was marred by its final line. I sent the link to a friend, and he sent me back a line by line critique, and his own suggested edits. Which I disagreed with. So then I tinkered with it myself, and sent him my revision.

The most interesting part of this exercise was how similar it felt to revising my own poems, probably because this poem is stylistically and aesthetically kin to mine. I think so, anyway.

Point being, working on revisions of someone else’s poem can be a really useful warm-up to writing a draft of your own. Approaching a new poem from a roundabout.

I’m not going to post these poems here, because that would be awkward and weird, and I’d feel awkward and weird if the poet discovered them. (How rude!) Possibly I’m overly self-conscious about this.

But if you’re curious, feel free to drop me a line and I’ll send them to you, as long as you promise to keep it to yourself. Seriously. (How rude!)

And maybe then you could take a crack at it, too: an infinity of (secret!) parallel poems.

~~~

Update: No sooner did I post this than I came across this!: Breaking the Rules: A Poetry Workshop. I’m not such a revolutionary after all.

This week at Linebreak

Many of you will already have seen this on Facebook, but for those of you who’ve resisted the FB-lure, I’m happy to tell you that my poem is featured this week at Linebreak. You can read it here, with a terrific audio recording by Randall Mann. I love how he takes his time, savoring the line endings.

One of the other cool features of Linebreak is their weekly e-mailing. How neat to receive my own poem in my email inbox! Feel a little like a rock star at the moment. You can subscribe to get your own copy of each week’s poem sent directly to you by clicking on the link at Linebreak on the right side of every page.

While you’re tooling around Linebreaks website, be sure to check out their archives, which include other rock stars, such as Emma Bolden, Karen Rigby,  Sandy Longhorn, and a whole host of terrific poets. Yes, I am bolstering my own ego via proximity to their eminence.

Thank you, Linebreak!

Catherine Sasanov & Pat Schneider (via The Collected Poets Series)

Catherine Sasanov & Pat Schneider Thursday, July 7, 2011, at 7:00 pm, poets Catherine Sasanov and Pat Schneider will complete the fourth season of the Collected Poets Series. Mocha Maya’s Coffee House, 47 Bridge St, Shelburne Falls, MA. ($2-5 suggested donation) Catherine Sasanov’s latest book of poems, Had Slaves (Sentence Book Award, Firewheel Editions, 2010) was recently named a 2 … Read More

via The Collected Poets Series