Tuesday, March 15, 2011

So, yesterday's poem.

I wrote it last year, at about this time. It took about 6 hours to finish, and I did it in more or less one sitting. Usually, when I write, I'm holed up at a table in my bedroom; but for this poem I was sitting in the living room in front of the woodstove with the computer on my lap, and I was writing about what I was doing. It was an outburst of the tense present.

No children were home, but Tom was, working about 10 feet away from me, around the corner in his own study. Our house is so small that we have become experts at amicably ignoring one another. Each of us has a small corner of his or her own, tucked out of eye view. So I don't know why I was writing in the middle of the living room when I wasn't alone in the house. That certainly doesn't seem to be the ideal method for completing a poem in a single sitting. Nonetheless, that's what I was doing.

There's a fair amount of despair in the piece . . . despair at the uselessness of all our tasks of living. It's not a sensation I feel every day; but when I reread the poem, I'm glad to have written it down. I think it's important to remember that art isn't necessarily supposed to make either the reader or the writer feel better . . . though, as you see, I've just written the phrase "glad to have written it down." So there's a way to feel both good and bad about creating the same piece of work.

Last weekend, as I was reading Carruth's Letters to Jane, I came across this passage: "It's my kind of country: bleak, slashed, windblown, remote, rather ugly. I'd live up there if I could." I wasn't reading his book when I wrote my poem. But when I look at his words now, I see them as an explanation of sorts. Or, if not an explanation, a fellowship in ugliness and love; a fellowship in the searching sentence, in the adjectival litany.

4 comments:

Ruth said...

There is a certain sort of pride in living in the "country: bleak, slashed, windblown, remote, rather ugly." Despite complaining about the conditions, we New Englanders do rather enjoy the trials.

Dawn Potter said...

Yes, forget those lush prairies. We're rocky-field farmers.

jen revved said...

I love the poem and I love your piece and now I'm thinking of buying a scratch ticket. I like the way you place yourself in the moment in order to notice-- and despite the brutal forces in play, the light. xj

Dawn Potter said...

I hope you hit the jackpot with that scratch ticket! Up here, people give them out as birthday presents, along with McDonald's coupons. . . .