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My Writing Process: Blog Tour

Step one: Acknowledge the person and site that involved you in the blog tour: Ryan Pratt’s blog tour tap

Step two: Answer the 4 questions below about your writing process:

1) What am I working on?
As of March 30- April 9 when I’m writing this:

There’s a phrase that bothers me as wrong in Quebec Passages (Noun Trivet Press, forthcoming 2014). Need to fix. I’m trying to stare it out. I keep blinking first.

P.S. And it has arrived

What else?

  • working on getting copies out to the right eyes of Vertigoheel for the Dilly (above/ground 2014) and spread word of poem videos of last two books.
  • lining up people to interview for Literary Landscape for the May 22nd show.
  • setting up compatible interview time with Stanford Forrester of bottle rockets and Massachusetts who is coming in to talk at Haiku Canada Weekend in May.
  • reading books by Philomene Kocher to interview her shortly for the May 1st show.
  • remixing video clips to go to the sound of a poem video trailer for Quebec Passages and one other poem trailer. (If all the files are open, it counts as still being worked on right?)
  • getting the food blog done ahead so that I can build in another vacation from blogging so they run without me while I do other things in to-do list.
  • lining up the notebooks of notes to make more posts on Versefest.
  • doing an event poster.
  • processing photos and inviting the camera and computer to be on first name basis with each other.
  • waiting for a chunk of time to build my trebuchet for the Factory Reading Series reading with Kevin Spenst and Sneha Madhavan-Reese on the 23rd. Because medieval war machines should be turned towards the good of Finnegans Wake and ghazals.
  • prepping a handout to give to the good people of Canadian Author’s Association.
  • looking around at the book stacks to choose what to record for the next segments of Two Things I’m Reading This Week.
  • adding the new published items to the author blog. (some day I’ll have to go thru & prune dead links.)
  • looking at vocabulary lists of constraints of words to play with for a project with Michele Provost and shifting words about listening for the combination lock’s click.
  • doing prototype layouts for a new chapbook from Phafours to come out (knock wood) by this summer.
  • trying to hammer out and humour out a very long poem until I grok its aboutness. Lost count of iterations now. Most poems seem to clock in at around 4-7 pages now.
  • doing final look over of Quebec Passages before it goes to press.
  • designing the little scraps of paper with poem bits that wrap around mints to be launched in a trebuchet. Which is yet to be built. This may or may not involve sparkles.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Poetry has many sub-genres. Like Duke Ellington said of kind. It doesn’t matter. There are really only 2…the good and the other kind.

I play in various traditions of them. I like vispo, haiku, senryu, avant garde, trad forms, surreal and things that are less straight forward. or straight forward if it is deeply considered and well-wrought and short. By volume I tend to do the most words in poems that are called “experimental” wherein different source texts are juxtaposed not making for a clear narrative.

Maybe its more distinctive factor is its volume. I don’t publish a great deal but I write daily and sometimes huge volumes. Over 5 hours recently I wrote 2000 words. Something had come to a head enough so that I could access at least around it. Or over 8 days in October I wrote 6-7 sonnets per day. Ones which will get tinkered and the project finished after a cooling off period. I’m not sure what its half life is. Most days I get parts of a poem or few.

I tend to let a little more chaos and word play in. The style depends on the purpose, subject and audience. I don’t see the point of essentialism in voice being one’s nature. It would only make sense for “branding” if there was money to be had from poetry but mostly there’s the living as one must. Brand doesn’t apply in this domain.

3) Why do I write what I do?
Now we get to the real questions. What and how are easy. Motivation is more interesting. Also wildly speculative.

What makes words salient and sensical? What stands out to you, what you can’t filter out if the analogy hold must clog the filter. So, to clear the filter, dump it so I can move on.

To remix, to get past the dust of Peanut’s Pigpen and get to something real, which isn’t to say emotionally charged because that’s another variety of smoke and mirrors.

Writing to explore what is possible, what stretches and snaps, what stretches and holds. Who can leap with me. Who thinks similarly enough that we can build on each other and make a new tower. Or is that too phallic? To tunnel together an make a mega yoni?

Why do I write? I ask that of myself when I don’t want to. I don’t know how to stop. Hubby looks at me when I suddenly go to point. (Apparently the wheels turn visibly.) Carefully he asks, “is there something you need to write down?” uh-huh.  “Alright, but remember to come back.” And I always do.

4) How does your writing process work?
It depends on the stream.

For haiku I steep in reading hundreds or thousands of haiku in a day then it seeps out in response with that shape of thought imprinted in the head. Or other Japanese forms come out in response to reading them in workshops or thinking about them as we do renga. Aiming for haiku sometimes I tip into tanka.

For vispo a poem arrives sporadically, more out of autobiographical urge, with long gaps between pieces, then bits of gut feel arriving over a series of weeks of the sense of space and sensation of it then sitting down and finding out what the concept looks like by making it.

For form poetry it comes from a challenge, a set of prompts, exercises, and/or wanting to see how far I can push a concept and what it causes. In my Apostrophe and Semicolon series, what happens if I stage Sydney’s characters of Astrophel and Stella as typographical elements in a modern social context? What does that allow? Talking about gender as a construct that in various species are not binary. The urge to make gods. What if other species have a theistic system. Caste and dominance and what economic forces drive those. Like Flatland, what if these things we make are creations with their own lives independent of us.

For freeform verse, it is a way of thinking and exploring language. I don’t know what I’m on about until I examine what I wrote and speculate. It comes from jangled nerves and inexpressibles. Too little sleep, too much stress, desire for play.

It may come in doing processes on my words, such as linking all the words on a scrabble board, or searching my corpus of jot note file for a letter combination and stringing those together. It may come from reacting to a poem that I think is off-base or so badly written that I could fix. Usually in the process seeing what it was they were saying and why. It may spark off a sound combination like “strum” and “trauma” which I think also were juxtaposed on a scrabble board. As were “fun” and “fauna”. Mouth feel of words of how they relate to another. It comes from resisting the tiresome direct sharings of life stories that are called poems. It comes from wanting to dialogue instead of being told what to think, feel, perceive.

Some quieter freeform may come from a rhythm in the head, especially while walking, pieced together over weeks. It comes from wanting to hold onto something beautiful and ephemeral and to draw someone else’s eye to be more informed and pay attention to world outside of the human world.

Step Three:

At the end of your blog post, say who is on next week (your own chosen three) – give a 1-2 line bio and link to their website. You’ll need to find three other writer mates to ask to do the same a week after you, and so on and so forth…

There’s a #mywritingprocess Twitter tag we can use, as well as linking to the blog post from our Facebook pages.

Rosemary Nissen Wade was born in Tasmania, lives in Australia. She helped start Poets Union of Australia in the late seventies. Pioneered poetry workshops in prisons in the early eighties. Formed Word of Mouth Poetry Theatre with Anita Sinclair, Ken Smeaton, Malcolm Brodie, 1986. Her most recent book is her Secret Leopard: New and Selected Poems 1974-2005 (Paris, Alyscamps Press, 2005).

Two other want to hop on and post in a week?

Related posts:

  1. Process(ing) So I wrote a poem. It doesn’t matter what. It was 62 words long. It was terse and seemed to have the energy of sitting on a nerve. I tweeted...
  2. Scrabble Poems Process Sometimes I explain making scrabble poems but a demonstration is clearer than words. Following the lines of where the word touch so that the board forces the connections instead of...
  3. Blog Loves The Ottawa International Writers Fest has a blog post on Etgar Keret reading. Sorry to have missed that event but with a new book launch in town every 3 days...

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