Saturday, April 15, 2023

imperfect oracles

The last couple of days, I've been drawing the TECHNOGROTESQUE series to a close. Which is to say, it feels finished right now, though who knows. It's currently at 15 poems, all written this month, and I feel like I've driven it to an ending of some sort. I'm finishing off with the pieces referencing the inspos that got the wheels turning on that particular project in the first place. Who knows what order they'll eventually be in once I get them edited and in final shape, but they're working right now in the order they came in. They still feel a little odd to me with their short narrow lines, narrower than I've written in decades probably. Uncomfortably narrow. 

The last thing I worked on but haven't shared much yet  HOME IMPROVEMENTS was lineated. but longer and more spacious. My first inclination on anything is prose, which may be where I am going next with what I wrote for today's poem I'll be posting tomorrow.  Sometimes, it's not the lines, but the stanza breaks that trouble me and make me question if I even know what the hell I'm doing. Sometimes things will sound fine but look unbalanced on the page. Sometimes, the opposite.  When I read things aloud, they're even more subject to variation. Many times at readings, people who listen are surprised to see they are prose poems on the page, certain I had some sort of intentional meter and rhyme. Mostly I just play it by ear. 

We all start out in lines I suppose, in stanzas.  I wrote my first book entirely in lined verse, but by the second and third, the prose crept in and then completely dominated much of my work for the next decade. Books that were at least 75% prose poems. The last two have been about half and half, and I've slowly been going back to lines, but prose feels like it's the most home-like. Like there is less artifice involved. Less orchestration. Sometimes, I need to get the words out and just type randomly with barely spaces or lines like some kind of incoherent oracle. Like its a spell to be rearranged later. 

I'm not much of a reviser, but I definitely am a tweaker. These napowrimo poems have less time to simmer before I post them, usually only a night, and the days I'm behind, possibly a couple hours. I will move things around in the lines and change words for sounds and sense, and fix my terrible typing mistakes (well the ones I see.) I hit post and lately, drop a segment into a reel for socials.  But the true test will be in a couple months when I go back in and see if they still are doing what I want them to. That needs some time. I do a lot of punctuation changes at that stage sometimes..those long poet sentences that never serve me well. I might cut out something that seemed clever but now seems stupid. Something that seems way too sentimental. But mostly the poems still look generally the same as the first draft. 

When I was in workshops, I remember the suggestions for revising and always thought that what they wanted was an entirely different poem from the poet--not just me, but everyone. Wanted to rewrite the poem in their own image. But I've always considered the next poem the revision. The things that later seem to be mistakes something to avoid next time. This one, I can tidy up the kitchen and put out fresh flowers, but I am not rebuilding the house. If its a disaster, I'll do it better next time. 


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