Thursday, December 18, 2003

The Development of Poems Part II

I was pleased at the two responses yesterday's post has sparked. They provide some meat and potatoes to continue this topic a bit longer and add fresh insight.

The comment by Katey yesterday hit home with me. She said, "I once heard that the moment you decide to scratch something out and start over is the moment you should've kept going. It's the moment of diving into the unknown...the fear, that causes us to stop." This really paralleled with what I was feeling at the time I mentioned the forward by Ted Hughes to Sylvia Plath's Collected Poems. After all, It was this realization that Plath did not scrap her stuff, but work it and craft it into something she was satisfied with; even if it was not what she intended.

In Katey's post Writing Is Scary she expounds on some very good related points and provides some excellent sources. I especially liked what Natalie Goldberg said: If you go deep enough in writing, it will take you every place." The idea of giving yourself permission to write the "worst junk" is not new to me and I have often used it to get out of a rut. That said, I still at times experience a fear associated with my writing. When Katey talks about the fear of empty pages... mine is more the fear of what is on those pages. I know, it's ok to write junk... but you want to know that this isn't happening all the time.

I guess I need more work on staying with the emotions and energy... letting them take me where I need to go. The really emotional stuff - I do that fine. T can write through tears as well as the next. The concept of writing for therapy is not at all new to me.

When Stephen Dunn talks about your poem beginning at the first moment you've "surprised or startled yourself" and "throwing away" what proceeds that moment... that is I suppose where I most often get off track. Wanting to force that "revelation" to work within the framework of what I started isn't always easy. That's where I often lose it. Realizing that, gives even more significance to what Robert Frost meant when he said, "Anyone can get into a poem, it takes a poet to get out of one."

In James' remarks following my post yesterday, he pointed us to his own blog post: Island of Lost Poems He too has had a lot of poem leftovers but he explains how he has dealt with this quite well making use of a poetry e-mail list to get feed back and post them on his blog... look for more feed-back and then sometimes tweak them a bit more based on that feed-back.

He spoke of setting a goal of writing a poem a day. Getting an image and letting a few words flow from there. Putting less into planning and letting the energy be more directed to the creative process.

I have appreciated hearing from these two peers sharing their insights and the collective sum of their exploring how this all relates to their own work. It has added to my original thoughts on the creative prowess of Sylvia Plath.

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