Sunday, October 4, 2009

Briefly Noted: The Week That Was

Enjoyed Robert Bernard Hass's reading on Thursday Night. He recites with a strong, yet tender voice. As a Frost scholar, his work pays homage to Frost and Wilbur and Eliot. C-O-U-N-T-I-N-G Thunder reflects upon nature and human nature through a variety of forms: sonnet, villianelle, free verse and so on. Some of the poems are written from a place of longing; looking back upon his childhood landscape growing up in the Hershey Pennsylvania area. Many lovely, poignant poems in this first collection.


I've been thinking about the process of writing a series of poems. I enjoy reading linked poems. How the series, even if it's lyric or lyric-narrative poems, creates a greater narrative because of its cumulative effect. I love the use of epigraph in series writing. It serves as a jumping off point because the epigraph in itself is un bon mot and shouldn't be duplicated; making the poet leap in her/his imagination to uncharted territory. In many ways it's making sense of a particular topic, from multiple angles. Here's the challenge: to make sure that the poems can stand on their own as well as in group. However, it's quite possible, maybe more usual, that there will be several poems that are only successful in "cluster." Maybe the cluster actually is the poem in its entirety.

Long ago, I wrote a series called Temptations, which became a chapbook. I still love these poems and I learned so much about the poet's craft while writing them. Writing in a series makes a poet focus in a different way. When I'm writing poems that are inspired by my randomness and the everyday, they may be considered a loose series because the topic is
"all about me" (HA!) . I used to think I thumped out these poems, whereas a directed series, with its research and concentration, is a very different experience. In many ways it creates the opportunity to use persona, which I love because you can act, speak, move behind the guise.

Maybe some of you who have written in series could weigh in here. This would be a good panel discussion, don't you think?


Shout outs: Congratulations to Karen Weyant's recent news. Her poems were selected as HM and Special Merit by Maxine Kumin in the Comstock Review's annual contest. Can't wait to see the poems, Karen! Check out Comstock's web site. It's one of my all time favorite journals.


Today is make an Apple pie day! I have papers to correct and laundry to do and things to sort.
The last one is the killer, but I feel so much better when I have the mail under control.
We're going to canoe on the pond this morning too. I imagine it's changed a lot since the last time we were there.


  1. My son is bringing my winter store of apples home from the orchard today! I will make a pie.

    As for series poems, I wrote one chapbook, Navigate, Amelia Earhart's Letters Home. Several of the poems were diary entries, and some of them were slight, small lists, that did not stand on their own but fit well within the collection. I meant to do this. The lists were meant as ephemera, but it was the one complaint that showed up in reviews of the book. I am now working on another series and I'm being careful to write poems that I feel stand alone as well as within the narrative arc. More as a challenge to myself than anything else.


  2. Hi Rebecca,

    Need to buy your collection. I've been wanting to buy it. The diary entries and ephemera sounds interesting. Do you have copies of it, or do I need to order from the publisher?
    Let me know.

    Yes, I've read some of the poems you're working on right now. The ones you've posted on your blog.

    Evocative poems. It will interesting to see them as a collection. I'm sure they're going to expose the dark secrets of institutions.

    The time period is early-mid 1900's, right.

    My apple pie turned out great. Everyone gobbled it up. I went to a family dinner this afternoon. My brother is visiting and my oldest sister will be coming in tonight. Plan on spending some time with her this week too.

    Will you go to the Amelia E. movie when it comes out? The trailers looked appealing.

    I like Hillary Swank.

    Keep me posted. Thanks for filling me in here on your process.


  3. The publisher is No Tell Books and you can buy it here from Lulu
    You can also buy Cadaver Dogs there :)
    Be sure to notice you can use PayPal or credit card, whichever you prefer.

    I will yes see the Amelia movie. I like Hillary too and she's a local girl to boot.

    The time period in the project I'm doing spans 73 years but begins yes but begins at the turn of the century. It's not exactly about institutions but that's a large part of it. I am trying not to talk too much about it. Some projects/poems I can post on my blog no problem. Others want to be quiet and simmer. This one is a simmererer indeed. It's like a helium balloon inside me keeping me chugging me forward. The more I talk the more helium escapes. The poems demand privacy for the most part. It's weird and exhilarating.