Friday, July 2, 2010

From pen to word processor: bang! bang! poetry! (& more on Schuyler)

On Wednesday I wrote a first draft of a poem directly on my computer, in Word. Scratch that. I wrote a draft of two different poems. On Thursday I deleted the first poem which I saw as a warm up.

Warm-up poems--and stories--are, for me, always the same quick flow of autobiography that goes nowhere. I am initially driven and soon bored.

But the second poem? I'm hanging onto it. I'd just read The Morning of the Poem by James Schuyler. I read the collection, but reread the title poem. Published in 1976 if moves through time, memory, geography, the body, the concrete detail.

I read repeatedly to get down the rhythm and sounds and because I had to. It's a wonderful book with a siren call.

That poem was the engine for me to change my method of writing poetry. Previously I wrote every first draft in longhand. No exceptions. I had my reasons, which were perhaps effete and ultimately grounded in fear. If it ain't broke and all that.

But it was broke. My poetry of late hasn't been poetic. I've been unhappy, relieved to have gotten one book out and figuring that just might be it for me. Then Schuyler mentioned typing his poems. It sounded to me like he might be typing first drafts. I haven't delved into his life although there is probably a fair amount of information available.

Motivated by an if-Schuyler-can-do-it-so-can-I impulse I did it. It wasn't just the typewriter. Morning moves across the page like music, classical, jazz, pop. I respond to music.

My new poem is in its infancy. The siren song of rewrites is beguiling. I'm not going to stop buying my 8-1/4 x 6-7/8 pads. Every new purse must still accommodate same. But my arsenal (bang! bang! poetry) has expanded.

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