You may be familiar with my Poetry Marathons – I’ve done them since January, 2015. I take a week, several times a year, and devote it to poetry – writing, editing, all poetry-related activities.
This year I have decided to do one segment of a Marathon each week. Two to three hours set aside for poetry, outside my regular life. It’s called the Installment Plan Poetry Marathon.
For more background information, look here. And if you want to read previous posts in this series, search this blog under the term Installment Plan Poetry Marathon 2017.
On September 28, I went to Brendlinger Library, Montgomery County Community College. It was a beautiful day, cool and breezy.
Very welcome after the string of hot humid days we have had.
I walked in the main section of the campus with a string of students – I was early, before 8 AM, but cars were entering in a steady stream and students were heading for classes.
I went into College Hall and headed for the library.
I was happy with my seating choice last week so I went to the same section and got things all set up.
There is something about the ceiling lights I really like. Just saying.
Today marks Week 39 – three quarters of a year that I have been doing this form of Marathon. After today, I have enough work to fill up another book, so I will be starting on that project very soon. That will make three books from 2017 so far.
I reflect a little on this Marathon process. It may seem an artificial way to work – save up ideas and write them out all at once. Shouldn’t I be grabbing for my pen as soon as I get an inspiration? What about spontaneity and artistic expression?
I’ve always been a person who finds it easy to fall back into an earlier mood or thought, as long as I have notes or some other trigger to help me; I’ve honed this ability, I think, in my visual art life. Often, I think of an idea to paint or draw but I can’t get to it right at the moment. So, I leave myself clues, take notes, whatever. It has worked for me.
I find the Marathon has operated the same way. I am always thinking; half-formed images, words that spark a bit of interest, whole lines and even parts of poems – I scribble all these down all during the week. I come to the Marathon session knowing I have time and space to let them out; and I also know that the next week, I will see what I wrote this week and have time and space for further refinement.
I’m used to working quickly and I don’t second-guess myself a lot in my everyday life. So it is with poetry. I write, I enjoy the process, and I move on.
It is so easy to get lost in daily tasks and each evening say, “I meant to get to this or that, I really did…”. I’ve spend a lifetime on those daily tasks and now my art and poetry are my priority. I am lucky to have the ability to spend my time this way. I know it and I am grateful for it. The Marathon works for me – I prepare all week for it and it gives a structure to my writing process. Thank you, Marathon!
All right. Let’s see, this week I worked on last week’s poems first.
Then I pulled out a couple of cards I had made earlier in the week.
As background, I was working on another project that involved cutting out words and phrases from printed matter, using discarded library books. As I worked I felt a pull to certain phrases. No idea, as they were nothing unusual; they just “lighted up” when I read them. I cut them out and pasted them on index cards in a random line-up.
I brought them today (there are two) and decided to use each entry in a poem. My rules being – 1. each one got its own poem and 2. I could use the other phrases if I wanted to, as often as I liked.
I had fun with this routine. I’ll do it again. For one thing, I only got through one card. And as I read them over, they make a kind of sense. Maybe there are snippets possiblities? Are they collage poems all on their own?
All right. Here are today’s examples. Look for their originating phrases on the card if you like.
Without much warning
if you were paying a little attention
picked up some steam
whispers in the dark
two people interested
the rest of us
trying to get some sleep
or pretending to
the signs being
it could go on all night
Stuck on a long-haul bus ride
you get used to these things.
A night like this
pouring down rain
extra-wet and heading straight for the target
My feet in strappy sandals
the dye striping my feet
My too-short coat
exposing six soaked inches of taffeta dress
wrapping itself around my legs
My hair-sprayed updo
sticky and beginning to drip
bits of glitter
My sister’s wedding reception
The last day of November
We walked from the church
It was only four blocks.
Let’s please get the photos over with.
That red dress
was instantly conspicuous
Cast out its siren-call
for a budget and
without much warning
but just enough
to prompt an indrawn breath or two
for its outrageous price tag
Happy to incite
guilty pleasure and
That red dress
swayed on its hanger
won over every eye viewing it
was ever so sorry
to have to reject anyone not size four
stoked up a month’s supply of jealous envy
was bought the first day it was displayed.
And some Little Vines.
on the run for two years you miserable little ghost
you can come home now
the insurance policy paid off
You big lunk
If you believe what you just heard
there is a vacancy in the thought motel
A gruesome state of circumstances
The patient is in surgery
Afterwards he will have to go into a new line of work.
I have matching pairs of anxieties
I veto your idea
The eyes do their work
The hands make their choices
Isn’t the future a fabric still to be woven?
Thank you for reading! Until next time.