Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Something Old, Something New

In 2015, I assembled a couple of chapbooks with old poems, and sent them around to a couple of contests. Predictably, neither of them found a home. Collections I've published in the past have never been based around a theme, or even written at the same time. Poems in the past have come to me one by one, and the only discernible theme has been, "me, me, me."

I did try a couple of years ago to write poems around the theme of horses. As it turns out, I had a tenuous connection at best with these beautiful creatures, although growing up on Long Island, next to a corral and next door to my grandfather's barn, they were common as squirrels. Of course, that very estranged relationship could be what I was supposed to be writing about in the first place, and not just a bunch of portraits of, "Horses I Have Known."

So, I have four or five decent poems about horses, and Long Island, and childhood. I have other poems about childhood too, so my last attempt at putting together a manuscript from poems I've already written will be to combine childhood poems with horse poems. This could work. Again, they have been written over twenty or thirty years, so they will require major revision to hang together, in my opinion. So, that project is in the pile.

This year, I decided to write one poem a month with the starting off point of current events in my life. The weather seems to open most of them, but after warming up, I think I've come up with eleven (so far) decent poems. These, perhaps with a couple others that I wrote outside of this exercise, should make a decently cohesive chapbook. As I wrote them, I just typed them up and put them in a folder, so perhaps my memory of them is a bit rosier than is warranted. We'll see in January.

I began a rather experimental project too, inspired by the works of Katrinka Moore, Anne Gorrick, and Adam Tedesco, among others. I stumbled on an old paperback copy of Valley of the Dolls over the summer. I copied ten random pages, then cut out pill-shaped chunks from the middle. I then switched around the cut pieces, and typed up rough, abstracts drafts of ten poems. I intend to make each successive draft looser and less connected to the original gibberish, but of course the results make more sense than you would think. This seems to be a good project to jump into when I can't think straight, or I'm too tired to write a "real" poem. Not thinking straight is absolutely required for this kind of word play. 

Basically, I am cutting myself some slack over the holidays, concentrating on relaxing (!) and enjoying the season. I'm also planning a trip to Florida in mid-February, via Amtrak, a less stressful mode of travel for both myself and my Roommate. I'm letting life lead for the time being. The poems wait, will wait, have waited, will be waiting. And will demand to be written when they will, always.