Last-Minute Poetry Marathon, Day 3

For background on this Marathon, look here.

It’s Day 3, and I’m doing things a little differently today. Usually I Marathon in the afternoon, the morning being reserved for exercise and chores and so on. But today I decided to put in a good long session and to begin first thing in the morning.

I hopped in my car and drove over to Chestnut Hill College, about 15 minutes from home. I think this library is one of my top favorite locations to work. I’ve written about the school before – I think I’ve come here in almost every Poetry Marathon – so I won’t today. Except for just this little bit.

The campus is set on a hill. It’s not a large school, but it has solid stone buildings and a nice look.

Here’s Logue Library, where I write.


I took a quick walk around to re-acquaint myself with the place – I decided to check out the lower level, where I’d never been before. Like Arcadia University, it houses the periodicals. Here they are on shelves.


I noticed Atlantic Monthly archives – caught my eye because my son works there now.


I also came upon this auditorium. I had no idea it was there! Looks like a nice spot for a speaker or for a performance of any kind.


Back upstairs. Look at the card catalog, here in a hallway near the offices. I don’t know what it is used for now, maybe older works that weren’t digitized? Other storage? Or maybe they just like it. I do, too.


I decided to work in the ground floor stacks. I’ve been in this section before. It’s quiet and the light is good. Also, I admit, I find the incessant roaring of the heating system very soothing here. Ready-made white noise.

Now, to my writing. I changed the order of my work today as well as the time of day. I spent a couple of hours working on my photo poem project in the beginning of the session, did my quick poetry writing, and then went back to revisions/editing. I spent more time than usual at work today but I found it relaxing and I made good progress. And when I needed a stretch, I could stand up and watch campus life going on outside.


The photo project poems continue to take a lot of attention. I came upon several poems that just didn’t hang together at all (I wonder if I was in a hurried state or just impatient with writing) but had good points to them. I made the decision to split them into separate works.

My alternative was to look back at the photos for each poem and see if new ideas came to me about how to make the poem work – but I decided that if I did, I would be imposing or adding today’s outlook into the mental world I was in when the poem was written. Because, after all, my idea was to capture a certain day in pictures and in words, and the person going back to the photo today is not the same one looking at it in January, 2016, let’s say.

It’s one thing to edit, and another to re-write. That’s what I decided.

So, the process evolves. I am enjoying the look back into the past that I am having. These photo poems have somewhat of the quality of an elliptical, opaque, indirect diary quality to them.

OK. Here is the poem I did in the quick writing part of the session – you remember, it’s just as I wrote it, no second-guessing or editing…

In what circumstances
and under what motivations
were assembled
stacks of old books
a vacuum cleaner
and a bag of cement
and who placed them
behind the locked front door
in the entranceway
of the store so long for-rent
on the main street
of our town
for me to glimpse
when I leaned against the glass
pressed my nose to it
cupped my hands at the sides of my head
and looked
into the dark interior
motivated by idle curiosity
and not much to do
on a Friday afternoon.


7 thoughts on “Last-Minute Poetry Marathon, Day 3

  1. Oh dear. I hope I don’t disappoint. I don’t have a denouement in mind! I am finding it to be a journey, though. Each day I see a progression in how I did things and also a little window into the past. I think I might keep working on this project after the Marathon (it will take only a couple more days after the “official end”) to round out the whole process of this initial review. Thanks for reading and for what you said, I appreciate it and it made me think…

  2. I am sure you won’t disappoint. I haven’t felt that you have been endeavouring to create suspense…I have been reading a quietly enthusiastic but unembellished sharing of your marathon… it interests me as someone who likes libraries, writing, creativity and so on. Seeing you there working, thinking, I want to look over your shoulder (reminds me of a story you told once about wanting to know what students were studying at the library) perhaps curiosity is what is going on for me 🙂 I like your engagement with your past work endeavouring to edit rather than recreate…or at least to touch lightly…(if I ‘m understanding)

  3. Thank you for this thoughtful reply, I feel very flattered by the portrait you paint of me and my work. I really value this Marathon process for the opportunity to immerse myself in something I have loved all my life – books and writing – and I am grateful to have the time and space in my life now to do this. I love libraries and books and I feel safe and at home in them, and doing my work there, well, that’s even better. My definition of “editing” for this project is kind of evolving, I think – I’ve realized that it’s important not to obliterate the past “me” who wrote these poems in the interests of the present “me”, but to make the poem tell its story better if I can, without turning it into something new. A delicate touch is needed, maybe, but – also I was awfully wordy or drifty in some of them! They need help! I’m looking forward to today’s session to see how this plays out. Thank you so much for following me as I go along.

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