When the Poem Goes Where You Don’t Go
It is day 11 of the February 30/30 Project, and I have eleven poems up at the Tupelo site. I’m feeling pretty successful, a feeling that will fade after dinner tonight when I must face the fact that I have to write a poem again and send it off before the end of the day since doing it by 8:00 AM tomorrow won’t really happen any other way. The surprising thing this time with the 30/30 is how often I’ve been faced with a draft that goes where I don’t, like today’s poem with one word I, the non-swearer in real life, would never ever use. This is a strong reminder to me that the speaker of the poem is not the poet and has much more freedom. I tell students that, but in my own writing, think about it more with persona poems. Today’s poem paraphrased something reprehensible said by a public figure (one guess who) and struggled with the speaker’s need for syntactical and emotional accuracy against my need to never swear. The poem won, as it should.
I’m returning to the habitual practice of noting phrases and lines when they happen rather than trusting that they will return when I sit down to draft at the end of the day. They don’t. They really don’t. I tried using Siri in the car to take a note for a great poem title, but I didn’t phrase the command well and it didn’t work. I will get stuck like that again though and have hopes that Siri will learn what is needed. This is when fragments of poems happen–when I’m not trying and doing something else. So many pieces get lost, but by paying attention, I hope to keep more of them.