I’m part of a cadre of poets who are resurrecting or creating blogs about poetry in 2018. Poets Kelli Russell Agodon and Donna Vorreyer recruited us on Twitter (a great place for poets) and I thought it would be a good use of my new “me as poet” website. Lord knows I don’t need another commitment right now, what with trying to churn up clients for a consulting gig that is (supposed to be) paying the bills, taking care of three kids, and beginning my fourth semester of grad school night classes. And feeling so very 46. So very midlife. So very everything. So, I’m not going to make this a “must-do” space. I’d much rather make this my poetry refuge. No deadlines to meet (I’ll post when I feel like it, hopefully often). No content calendar to prescribe subject matter. No stress. I’ll make it up as I go along. I hope you will join me as I find poetry in unexpected places or revisit poems that give me solace in a sinister time.
And do follow the other wonderful poets blogging into the New Year. Almost all of these folks are new to me and that’s exciting. Sometimes it seems the poetry world amplifies the same voices, over and over, and so many equally amazing voices are overlooked. I can’t wait to see what these writers are watching, listening to and thinking about.
In thanks, I’ll leave you with one of Agodon’s poems that was just published in Pedestal Magazine. Geez it’s a stunner. I love poems whose first line becomes the title. This tactic is a great writing prompt, too. If you’re not already keeping a “bits journal” for phrases as writing prompts, please start. Use the Notes app on your phone or a small notebook in your car or purse to write down unusual lines and phrases as they come to you or as you overhear them. My favorite poems usually start from exploring one line like this, rather than a subject or feeling. I’m not sure if Agodon’s poem was birthed with her title but the ease at which it moves us into the narrative is effortless: “When my therapist tells me my father’s trauma has been transferred to me, I think”.
The poet’s subtle use of anaphora brings us back to the narrator, over and over: I think, I think, I wonder. Wonder itself is reinforced through natural imagery: the sky, planets, moon and mountains. The poem’s shape- short three lined stanzas stacked like waves lapping on a shore- gently alludes to the imagery. And although the poem references a father’s death and family trauma, we aren’t given all the details. Sometimes it’s the withholding of information where the poet lets the most people in. A helpful poetry revision exercise is taking insider information out of your poem. I think the mystery in this poem is where I enter it. I may not understand this narrator’s particular trauma, but yes, I have my own. Don’t you? And I’m touched how the narrator soothes herself with something as small as making homemade salsa. It reminds me of a book my college roommate and I read aloud to each other to help us through a rough year.
My favorite line in Agodon’s poem is “someone has shot a hole through the entire universe, and I wonder how she got the gun,” Gawd. I don’t even know what to say about that. Just sit with it for awhile. This poem moved me in the best worst way. I know someone else is going through life with hurts and happiness. I know she is trying to understand what it all means. We are not alone.
Happy poetry year, everyone. Here’s to 2018.