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Friday, August 23, 2013

I'm Baaaaack!

I've been traveling, and during my travels, I hardly checked in with my email and social media accounts. I also didn't listen to any podcasts. The last just happened as I was with family I hadn't seen for three years and wanted to be as present with them as possible; the former was by design. It was a vacation from modern life, and it was refreshing. But now I'm back.

I also picked up some contributor's copies of journals my work has appeared in, and which I had had sent to relatives' stateside addresses in order to spare the non-profit journals the overseas postage required to reach me at my home.  Seeing the journals in print makes the publication experience seem more real, and I'd like to thank the editors of the Barrow Street and Ninth Letter Arts and Literary Review for supporting my work in the recent past.

I've also been working on the August Poetry Postcard Fest, and have discovered something I had not known before: you can do warm-up poems before working on longer poem projects, and this helps loosen up the imagination. From past years of participation in the APPF, I have learned that one or two images is really the most you can effectively get on a postcard, so instead of getting into the complex extended metaphors that are typical of my writing, I have tried to focus in on a few lines capturing a single image for each postcard. Although the poems are short, it does take me hours to write them. I prop the postcard up where I will see its image all day, and before beginning my regular routine I study it for a few minutes. Then I go on about my day, passing the postcard numerous times, being reminded of it, thinking about the image on and off during the day until the right lines begin to form in my mind. At that point I sit down and write the poem.

What I've found is that after doing that, I can pull out other non-APPF poems that I have been working on for weeks and I can continue work on them, having been primed for writing and freed up in my imagination by the work on the postcard poem. Though the postcard poem has nothing to do with the poems of my regular life, somehow they act as a warm-up for me, and I am finding writing easier this way. Perhaps I've just dealt with my natural resistance to writing in the earlier exercise--I'm not sure what the mechanism at work here is, but anyway, it's been helpful. I think I will keep writing small images in response to something visual (with the single image as the end goal)  as part of my writing practice in the future. Who knew you could do mind stretches like that before getting into the real work?--not so unintuitive, I realize now, but it's a new idea for me.

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