Sunday, January 11, 2009

Poem vs. me: round 1357.

Today was my writing group.  I have been thinking about this one piece of freewriting I had, one that I had had for several months now.  This morning I awoke with this piece of freewriting on my mind and a little shred of a thought about where I might begin--with this line from the lyric of George Jones's "Why Baby Why" which I recently heard in a cover by James Taylor.  So I was thinking, This is it.  Today is the day.  The time is now to wrest a poem from you, piece of freewriting, or know the reason why.  

(Note to self:  why are you having so many showdowns with inanimate objects, self?  What is this agon, this animus, this bellicosity, this pugnacity?  Must investigate.)

So I pulled up this piece of freewriting.  I reviewed its eddies and flows and I did a little homework (downloading George Jones's version of "Why Baby Why").  I began to pull bits of the freewrite together into lines, the lines into stanzas, the stanzas into something like an argument with a big leap in the middle, and it started to seem so . . . hopeless.  Fatuous and hopeless.  Fatuous, pointless, and hopeless.  (It's sometimes hard to fend this feeling off even if the writing is going well.)  I thought, ugh.  That hole in the argument? I don't know how to get around that, or fill it in, or make it disappear with magic, or write an invisibility shield to go over it. 

It got to the point where I either was going to take a shower or sweat over the poem some more, and I thought, why inflict an unshowered poem-less self on my writing group?  At least shower.  At least be clean.  So I did, and I thought about the recalcitrant poem while showering, and I thought some more and I got some ideas.  So I did my hair and got dressed and thought, Never mind, I always show up with a poem, if I don't have a poem, big deal.  Maybe this poem is bigger than the time I allotted it.  Poem 1, Lisa 0, so what?  

But that just made me mad.  

So I sat down and I decided to leave the argument-hole as it was and write the strongest second half of a poem I could.  And that's exactly what I did.  I am a little bit in love with the second half of the poem I wrote, and having done so, I think I know what to do to work with the first half and the hole I wrote myself into. 

So the score is now Poem 1, Lisa 1, and I think I will also out-strategize the poem's reluctance to be written when I do the next draft. In the words of Jerry Sloan, I've done what I need to do to give myself a chance to win.   


  1. Jerry Sloan, poetry coach. Love it. He would get some hard work out of those poems, for sure.

  2. I think if your ever even just a little bit slightly in love with what you've written than you have won. So, in my opinion, you kicked that poems ass. Hightouch: a billion, poem: nuthin.
    Glad it is a success. You will kick my ass in April.

  3. I've always thought being angry at the poem is the first step toward reconciliation and a successful, healthy relationship.

  4. Okay, so this is really random. But I once saw Jerry Sloan at a doll show. I promise. And now I hear he's a poetry coach. Dude gets around.

    And way to go on the poem!

  5. Okay, I don't know about the poem so much, but your blog is kicking all of the other blog's trash. You are definitely doing some writing there. Love it!



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