Friday, October 14, 2005

Structuring books of poems, part 2

From the current (Oct/Nov '05) AWP Writer's Chronicle, in an interview with Rita Dove by Elizabeth Alexander:

Alexander: Your books are all so beautifully sectioned. How can you see that you have more than one thing that goes together and not just a bunch of stray hairs?

Dove: I actually put piles of poems on the floor and walk around them, asking: "Do you want to be over there? You want to be in that group?" I talk to them. I listen to them and then--

Alexander: They get up and go?

Dove: Yes. They edge over there, you nudge one next to another. It's quite a physical thing, isn't it? They really have to want to go together. And build their power from each other.


Frank León Roberts said...

Thanks for posting this. Both Alexander and Dove are among my favorites. What a marvelous pairing of 'old' and 'new'.

Erin B. said...


That's a self-compliment though, too, since that's my method. Virtually doesn't work for me. I need the real thing, a tangible representation of my manuscript. It is, after all, called a manuscript.

Hope all's well.

Lyle Daggett said...

I also handle the pages, when I'm putting together a manuscript. I don't talk to the poems, exactly, but I do read them out loud. Reading them out loud helps when I'm listening for the contrasts of tone and mood.

I listen for the quality of the silence before and after each of the poems. That sometimes tells me as much as the poems themselves do.

Lorna Dee Cervantes said...

HA! That's so goofy! I love it. Thank you for posting it.