Sunday, April 05, 2009


I feel a little ridiculous saying so, but today I feel I turned a corner on this manuscript that has been one-half of my nominal rationale for a sabbatical. That's because, today, for my writing group, I decided to finally tackle the poem I've been calling "The New York Dolls" poem for nigh unto two years now.

This is one of those poems I allowed to saturate in dread (if dread were a kind of marinade) and then roll in scholarship (if scholarship were, say, toasted ground nuts--if you're following my recipe) until it became practically unwritable. Today, for instance, before I made myself bang out a horrible draft (I know, I have told you this story before, but that was another poem), I consulted:
  • the Latin of The Aeneid;
  • several stodgy translations of The Aeneid;
  • the lyrics to many New York Dolls songs;
  • a discussion of Kant's Critique of Judgment by Lyotard.
That seems like a lot for a poem to carry, in my humble opinion, and also it proved to be rather humbling, trying to figure out how to paste this stuff together in a way that felt remotely felicitous. I ended mid-poem, literally--the last line ended with a colon, which signified all that would come after. All that should come after. All that must come after, if it were to be a poem at all.

But hey, and what do you know, the horrible draft ended up being not so horrible after all, and when I read the poem to the group, with many last minute cuts and emendations and additions, ending mid-poem, they thought that the non-ending made a great ending, and all my big fill-in-the-blank ideas of what should come after the colon melted away, and the poem, she is finished, or dang near.

Because this poem had terrorized me into random acts of scholarship and truly awful avoidance behavior, the fact of having drafted it successfully has me feeling that I am nearer to a whole draft of this manuscript than I thought. In fact, I believe I will tackle the other terrorist poem in my manuscript tomorrow, because I am on a roll: Iceman, Power Lisa, my assault on the world starts NOW.


  1. i love the idea of a poem about the new york dolls, so i will look forward to reading it.

  2. Clap, clap, clappity clap. I can't wait to read this poem.

  3. Ladies--the poem is linked in the penultimate paragraph . . . I can't wait to have you read it either!

  4. Congratulations to you, you poetry writing fool.

  5. Yes! A corner! Well done! I am so happy I'm going to buy myself a cupcake. What flavor would you like me to eat on your behalf?

  6. You have to have the kind of mind that can imagine the whole building to see the corner you need to turn. I'm so happy you have that kind. I wish you could loan it out... I will go read it now that I've seen the comments.

  7. Great poem. Is done. Rest on your laurels.

  8. I think each poem should include the recipe of its own creation.

  9. I adore Middlebrow's suggestion. I'm always interested in how a piece of writing came to be.



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