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Thursday, September 22, 2011


After weeks of not being able to write anything worthwhile, I've finally got a poem going, really moving. But once again it's a smarty-pants "look-at-me-I'm-so-clever" poem. I really want to write airy stuff, full of leaps and layers and space, like Rusty Morrison, like Cole Swensen.

How do you get out of your own head?

Suggestions welcome.


Sandy Longhorn said...

Take a poem by one of the writers you mention and write it out by hand over and over several times. Walk away and let the muscle memory sink in. Go about your daily life. Return to the desk and think about drafting a poem in that style without rereading the original. Write by hand and see what happens.

Jessica Goodfellow said...

Thank you, Sandy, that's a wonderful and specific idea, very helpful. I will try this.

Mary Bast said...

But you DO write like Rusty Morrison. This could be you: And the first part of Swensen's "The Invention of Streetlights" could be you: though I don't remember a poem of yours this long (I'm forgetful, though).
Anyway, thanks for longing over these two on your blog. Now I'm longing over them, too.

Jessica Goodfellow said...

Mary, the most wonderful thing would be if I DID write like those two amazing poets. You know what's funny? The Morrison poem you cited is the exact one that I have been writing by hand in order to get some muscle memory for this style, as suggested in the first comment by Sandy Longhorn! Really love this poem. The words "falling, flight, force, disappearance, cumulatively, body, negating" those words could appear in a poem by me. But the airier stuff that connects them, that would never occur to me. That's what I want to learn.

And the Swensen poem you cite again has vocabulary I would use: the lights, the cells, organism, magnesium, also the historical references. But it still has an ephemeral quality I lack. I just hit everyone over the head with my poems. I have no subtlety. I think I don't trust the reader enough, or something. Or I need to show off too much. It's definitely about being too aware of myself in the process, too conscious of trying to make a certain impression.

But I shall work on it. In the meantime, enjoy these wonderful poets!