Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Back to the world of 8 to 5

Going back to work after a week of vacation-slash-workshop can feel a bit like slamming one's head into a brick wall. I'm very fortunate in that I have a job I actually like, which helps. It also helps that I have a ten-day retreat to look forward to in the fall. One of this weekend's tasks will be putting together the application for that. (I'm applying to one place; if that doesn’t work out, I have another in mind. But I have a good feeling about the first place.)

I am starting to think about what books I'll want to bring with me -- some to inspire me, some to study how they're put together, some just for pleasure. We talked a bit in my workshop last week about putting together manuscripts, which was pretty interesting. Sounds like there are about as many ways of thinking about manuscript structure as there are poets, and maybe more than that. I have a lot of weather in my poems, so I'm toying with the idea of trying to create some kind of a seasonal structure -- but what I want to do is try about three or four different things (including straight chronological order and straight alphabetical order, just for grins) and read through the poems and see what sort of connections I can discover. I drafted a new poem in 4 sections (well, newish -- at least the first section is material I've worked with before) in Provincetown which is, I think, helping me understand some of my larger project and how the connections among poems might work. Maybe.

Which poetry collections (single collections, not selected/collected) do you especially admire in terms of structure?

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I usually try to respond to blog comments, but I've not been good about it for the past week or so. Sorry about that. I was a little preoccupied with Provincetown. :) I would try to catch up, but y'all aren't going to go back and look at this point, right? I appreciate the comments though. It was nice to be having a wonderful time & be able to share a little of that with others. It was too good a week to keep it all for myself.

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Gorgeous, gorgeous slender crescent moon in a French blue sky out there, a flock of swifts spiraling around over the houses, crossing past the moon. Fireflies beginning to rise. Who says the Midwest isn't lovely?


RJGibson said...

In terms of structure I'm a big fan of Gluck's "Meadowlands" and "Wild Iris"; O'Hara's "Lunch Poems; also DA Powell's books.

Collin said...

Glad you had such a great experience in P'town. Going back to works is a bitch after a week away living what should be your real life. Ease back in gently.

As for structure, I would recommend Tania Rochelle's "Karaoke Funeral." It's an arc of poems about her husband's affair, their subsequent divorce and then meeting the man who would become her second husband.

KATE EVANS said...

Enjoyed all of your Provincetown posts. Thanks!

Anne said...

RJ: Mmm, good thoughts! Bonus, I have all of those except (I think) for Meadowlands (which I can nab at the library). Thanks!

Collin: Yeah, it should be my real life, shouldn't it? Actually I think it *is* my real life, it's just that it only gets to happen for one week a year. :) I'll check out Tania Rochelle; I'm not familiar with her at all. Thanks!

Kate: Glad you enjoyed!

Lyle Daggett said...

Also enjoyed the Provincetown posts. A couple of times in the comment box here I've mentioned being at the Port Townsend (Washington) Writers' Conference a couple of times -- it was a similar kind of thing for me, that place is hopelessly infused into my blood now, even years after the last time I was there.

Regarding poetry books I like for the structure:

James Wright, "The Branch Will Not Break"

Galway Kinnell, "Body Rags"

Adrienne Rich, "Leaflets"

Federico Garcia Lorca, "Romancero Gitano" (the "Gypsy Ballads")

Martin Espada, "The Republic of Poetry" (recent one of his, might still only be available in hardback)

Those are off the top of my head. Lots of others, though many are out of print and/or kind of obscure. I tried to list ones that might be reasonably findable.

Someone says the Midwest isn't lovely? Not me...

(Are those swifts that spiral around the houses? I always thought they were swallows. Maybe we're talking about two different kinds of birds. The ones I've seen have the classic "split" tail that forks back in a V shape -- swallows.)

Anne said...

Lyle: I'll have to check out Port Townsend someday. Must be something about writing with the smell of the sea in one's lungs....

And thanks for the recommendations! Out of print is not an issue, if the IU library has it (or can get it via interlibrary loan, which means I can get my hands on pretty much anything I want for at least a few weeks).

I always thought the birds that came up out of chimneys in the evening were swifts, but I could be wrong. I'll have to look 'em up. I like the word "swifts" better. Hmm, use the word I like better, or be accurate? Now that's a tough call for a poet. ;)

Lyle Daggett said...

Anne, I got curious myself, and did a little online digging about the birds.

A couple of the websites I checked said that some species of swifts and swallows resemble each other in appearance. Based on the typical range and habitat (according to the websites), my best guess is that the birds I've seen here are swallows -- most of the species of swifts I found any info about tend to be found further west, and several species tend to prefer mountains and high altitudes, of which we have a shortage here.

Whereas there are at least a couple of common species of swallows that are found widely over the U.S. The ones I've seen may be barn swallows (deeply forked tail). Of course I haven't seen the ones you've seen.

I also like the word "swift" better. A number of years ago I wrote several poems that had ravens in them. Then I checked a couple of bird field guides, and based on what I found it seemed unlikely that the birds I'd seen and heard here (in great numbers) were ravens; they were probably crows. (Ravens apparently have a range further west, and are rare here; also their call sounds quite a bit different. The birds here have the classic "caw caw" call of crows.)

So went back and changed the ravens to crows in the poems. I liked the word "raven" better in the poems in question, but I wanted to be accurate. Oh well.