Thursday, March 29, 2007

Glück, and a draft

The Louise Glück reading yesterday was quite good, and well-attended. I haven't read Averno yet, but after hearing her read from it I've decided I definitely need to pick it up soon. She read only from Averno, about 40 minutes I guess, then took questions for a little while. Someone asked her what she'd learned from being Poet Laureate, and I guess it wasn't exactly a good experience for her. Heh. Someone else asked her about her work on the Yale Series, and she was much less cranky about that; it sounds like that is work she genuinely enjoys.

Just hearing the work aloud, not having read it yet, was interesting -- I think I hear poems differently when I have not previously encountered them on the page vs. when I have. Something about the poems she read made me think of Carl Phillips' work -- that there was a similar sort of intelligence and thought-to-language process at work. The classical influence, partly, but something more than that. I'll file that in the back of my brain for potential critical-paper-fodder should I ever manage to get myself into an MFA program.

(Edited to add: I almost forgot to mention that she said when she started writing one of the poems in Averno -- I think it was "Landscape" -- it was the first poem she'd written in two years. For some reason I found it comforting to think that she has long dry spells just like the rest of us.)

This draft actually came, in part, from random notes I jotted down during the reading. I think it needs a different title, and I think the language itself needs to be doing more work -- the words here feel too ordinary to me and I want to find words that are more energetic and unusual. The language itself needs to be part of the risk the poem takes. (This is something I need to work on in general.) So this is kind of an outline or a sketch, in a way, as much as a draft. But there's something about it I like enough to keep working on it. To that end, the draft will disappear from this blog in a day or so.

*poof!* draft is gone. thanks to those who commented. :)


Lyle Daggett said...

Four things caught my attention in the poem draft.

"What is the source of the dreams..." -- My choice might be to use a word other than "source," something that means what "source" means but maybe more specific or concrete.

"...what would you say to that silence?" --Instead of "say to," I might feel for a verb and preposition that engage with the silence more, something maybe more kinetic, more muscular, more hands-on.

"What are her concerns?" Here, the word "are" feels a little weak. Again I find I'm wanting a more active or kinetic verb. (Doing so, it's true, might involve reworking the sentence.)

"What proof does she have of your existence?" In this line, "have" feels somewhat weak, similar to "are" above. These are both fairly generic verbs. The inciting awakening you approach in the poem seems, to me, to want something more active and specific.

I really like how the poem begins. And I really like the last five lines.

I liked reading the poem. Thanks for posting it.

Anne said...

Thanks, Lyle -- yep, those are the kinds of things I meant when I said I felt like the words in the poem are too ordinary & need to be more energetic. Maybe I'll get a chance to work on it over the weekend, though I may not get to it that soon---

Jessie Carty said...

I agree that it is really comforting to hear that someone so well known would have a dry spell as well. Whew :)

On your poem. I love the opening and the ending but I think you have already observed that some of the language is very plain. Maybe play w/ the old thesaurus (spelling?) or try moving away from some of the questions to make more direct statements and that might pop some new ideas into your mind.

Thanks for sharing :)


Anne said...

Thanks, Jessie! :)

jeannine said...

Hey, Anne! If you're interested, and your library has copies of The Cincinnati Review, I wrote a review of Averno in the latest issue...

LKD said...

First, I had the privilege of reading the "rough" draft that you posted below before it disappeared and I remember thinking:

This is ROUGH?

This is a DRAFT??

Fro what it's worth, I enjoyed that poem a hell of a lot and felt it was much further along than rough or draft.

I hope it finds a good home.

As for this draft, I read it at work today before you disappeared it and couldn't comment because...I was at work, man. I have to at least pretend to be working. (grin)

What I wanted to say is this:

I think the poem, if you keep at it, the real poem will be in the answering of those questions. I felt like the poem really began in the lines at the poem's end that weren't questions. Answer those questions and I think you'll find yourself a humdinger of a poem.

Incidentally, the last lines of your poem reminded me of a book I haven't thought about in an awfully long time that I love a hell of a lot:

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys.

I think I might have to pull it off the shelf and reread it once I've finished Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenter.

Thanks for posting these drafts of yours, Anne. It heartens me to see folks willing to expose their writing in various stages of the process.

Anne said...

Jeannine: Ooh! I will definitely try to track that down. If we don't have it, I may pester you for the page numbers and try to get it via interlibrary loan. Thanks!

Laurel: Aw, thanks! Maybe I will play with answering the questions. I wonder if there aren't perhaps two companion poems: one with questions, and one with answers.

I read Wide Sargasso Sea many (many) years ago, as an undergrad. I'd almost orgotten about it, but I suspect it is still on my shelf...