Day 24 — the making of a poem: behind the scenes sneak peak

Attended a Gawler Poetry Readings – Poetry at the Pub workshop run by the very talented Heather Taylor-Johnson

It was an excellent workshop … & here I’m going to quote some blurb: Form is an active part of a poem, not just an aesthetic, so the workshop will look at how different forms DO different things within a poem. Which indeed it did. We looked at multiple examples of different poems in different forms doing different things. We discussed what those things might be. We did numerous writing exercises which produced several pomes which we were nice starting points for later play. 

But one exercise was particularly pertinent. Seeking to see if I could use the workshop to generate today’s NaPoWriMoPo Heather asked us to to consider something we were currently dealing with. I chose the unexpected end of a relationship (for those of seven of you who’ve been here all month this will come as no surprise, hahaha).

However in the interest of walking you through some of what we did, somewhat unusally, I’m going to present several versions of the poem (2 drafts and the current ‘final’ version).

Task: to write something super swiftly on the topic (3 minutes). 

& so this. First version.

Draft #1.

[untitled]

Sorry you were not
Brave enough to brace
Yourself against the slow
Flow of obstacles 

Mud & stones & sticks 
Rumbling down the mountain
Brought down by weeks
Of rain & now the deluge 

The sad landslide 
Has wrecked everything 
Washed away whatever
We had tentatively built

Not sure I have the energy
To commence the clean up
Let alone attempt any kind
Of reconstruction efforts

Curiously because this was late in the session I was already thinking about form & for some reason wrote it in quatrains which is not something I’d normally do. But quatrains certainly don’t suit this subject matter.

Aside: when I started the poem I wasn’t actually sure what it was going to be about. I only had the first few words of the first line “Sorry you were not/Brave enough…” When I wrote “brave” I immediately paired it with “brace” (why? they looked nice together) then I had to work out what she was bracing against. “slow/Flow” popped in … & that’s where the landslide imagery came in … & the rest wrote itself. [It’s interesting to keep track of what happens to those words/images through the poem; or I think it is anyway.]

Supplementary task: five minutes to reconsider it in terms of its form considering how altering form might enhance meaning. I couldn’t at first see what to do. Then:

Sorry you were not
      Brave enough to brace
           Yourself against the slow
                  Flow of obstacles 

But if I did that I’d rapidly run out of room. So I reduced it from 5 spaces to 1.

Giving me this:

Landslide/slip

Sorry you were not
 Brave enough to brace
  Yourself against the slow
   Flow of obstacles 

     Mud & stones & sticks 
      Rumbling down the mountain
       Brought down by weeks
        Of rain & now the deluge 

          The sad landslide 
            Has wrecked everything 
             Washed away whatever
               We had tentatively built

Not sure I have the energy
To commence the clean up
Let alone attempt any kind
Of reconstruction efforts

Which still didn’t look right. But maybe was kinda going somewhere. But anyway, formatting it on my iPhone was too hard & besides I was out of time. 

Only when I got home could I play. & after attempting it all lined up on the right hand side of the page. Urrrgh. I ended up with this. Which while not perfect, I quite like.

slippage

so
sorry 
you were 
not resolute 
enough to brace 
your soul to resist 
the detritus torrent
mud & stones & sticks
rumbling down the mount
deluged by weeks of rain — now 
the sad landslide has wrecked everything 
washed away everything we’d tentatively built

not sure if i have the energy to commence clean up
let alone attempt any kind of meaningful reconstruction

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