Friday, September 18, 2009

Sometimes I feel like, after doing this for the last 15 years, I've simply written too many poems and can’t keep them all straight. (Or maybe I just keep writing the same poem over and over again trying to get it right.) Someone will mention something to me from one of my books, and while I can usually remember the line, and even what comes after it and before it, I sometimes, embarrassingly enough, have no immediate recall which exact piece it came from. My relationship with my work is often a strange one. Some poems I could recite to you verbatim (others I barely remember having written them.) At one point in 2001 when I had the sort of free time for such things , I counted up all my drafts since 1991 and had written (or had an abandoned draft of at least) over 500 mostly awful poems. I've written at least as many since then, if not more, though hopefully less awful. Usually once the poem is drafted, revised, published, and part of a manuscript, I don’t really go back to it unless it’s one of my favorites that I like to trot out at readings. Usually by the time the book comes out (typically a few years after the poems were written), there’s a certain distance between me and the work that makes me want to put the book away and not look at it again. There are days when I can read through it again and love it. Days when I want to hide it on the shelf and never look at it again. I’ve always felt like it’s very important for me to keep moving forward, the next book, the next poem. Sometimes I feel like a really bad mother, having all these children and then leaving them behind .

Anyway, this morning I was working on something that had a line in it that just seemed way too familiar to me, like maybe I had already written something way too much like it, or maybe someone else had already written it and worse, I was just unintentionally stealing it…(I have also READ too many poems and everything starts to blur together.) So as the morning progressed, I became convinced, that indeed, SOMEONE had already written a line like this and I set out to find it. I knew it wasn’t a fever almanac piece, but I checked bird museum and girl show and even the new manuscript (which is much fresher to me) thinking maybe it was in there somewhere. Then I checked all the random odd poems & bits that never wound up in a book. Nothing.

Finally. I just googled it, hoping I had either published it on the blog or in some online place, and found THIS:

It looks like she just lifted the text from feign and errata, with a little bit of her own words mixed in. I'm' not one to get all proprietary over words, but I don't know whether to be pissed, horrified, amused, or slightly flattered....

(oh, and incidently I was right, I'd used a similar line before, not exactly the same, but a similar metaphor, so back to the drawing board..)


angela simione said...
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Rachel Mallino said...

That (blog?) confused the hell out of me. Were those lines supposed to be from her own writing?

In any case, I'd probably be horrified yet strangely flattered at the same time. I just don't understand what type of person would do such a thing. I know, by accident, I will write something similar to what someone else has written (a line or metaphor) and realize it later. I hate that feeling.

Anonymous said...
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