Wednesday, 23 April 2014

My writing process: poetry games

Called a blog tour, the ideas/questions are on tour across many literary persons and canpo blogs: a virus of poetics, a literary contagion.

You can read Sandra Stephenson and Christine Miscione, Gary Barwin and Rob McLennan, and all the branching poets participant as mentioned on the various sites, reflecting upon these same questions. 

Julie Mahfood and BrandonCrilly are my littermates, check out their responses, too. Check the bottom of this post for the next poets/whistlestops.

What am I working on?
In the moment I am immersed in published and unpublished manuscripts by other writers, reading and reflecting and researching, in order to write something sensical that the authors may then use in support of their works, moving them on to the next stages (the lives of written works). I am promoting my new book and my newer one, my first set of twins.
Plus many inspiring collaborations, moving toward front-burner status: Public art in Richmond, Reconciliation Through Poetry in Vancouver, and something in Toronto (too soon to tell).

Impending, I have guest appearances on diverse blogs, promoting my new book, Halfling spring. I will add the addresses and eta when these are compiled.

With images by Leo Yerxa, this is a compilation of love poems that will not cure you of cynicism, but will remind you to celebrate the sweetness of life.

On the backburner, I have many books in many stages, from republishing out-of-print books to a fantasy romp, exploring polyandry (it seems tiring) through the whimsical inspiration of a medieval Persian adventure epic.

Also, it’s tax time, which I handle through an annual deer-in-the-headlamps freeze:

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

There’s a handy question.

Primarily i write poetry, also essays: I would say that my approach is conversational, highly intimate, and includes a great deal of wordplay: language-sensitive, earthy, sense of humour, heavy-lifting (in the sense of engagement with big collective as well as wee personal concerns). Perhaps the works fit more closely in traditions of balladeering and country songs, or storytelling and oratory, than the more cerebral poetics. But. Iconoclastic is another word I’ve seen, directed at my work.

There is a demand for embodiment and affect, alongside intelligence: if these are not handled with sureness then the work is not done. Song principles govern everything: energy patterns are most important; large or small, complex or mundane, the pattern and path of ideation through the course of a work must bring a person along for the ride, or it’s not going anywhere. I have low tolerance for ideas piled on ideas in towering towers: I won’t read 19 Europeans to “get” a single Canadian poem.

Why do I write what I do?

Another good question… these arise as feelings that need to be discharged, an intellectual itch or an emotional wobble, an imbalance in the world that somehow lands upon my desk, and must be dealt with. Through writing I explore the world, my inner world and my realms of relatedness, as well as the global and ageless, for fun or from deeply serious motivation. An assignment from without becomes an inner process, through the ethics of “it’s on my desk.”

Lin Yu-tang’s The Importance of Living was one early directive, James Baldwin’s Another Country, another.

How does my writing process work?

As noted: when a job has been identified, whether an accepted assignment, an assertion from within, or what have you, I wander around and gather items from the world which will help me complete the task. 

These sometimes have a straight-forward connection. 
One instance: I was recently tasked to write about reconciliation, so I watched many Chief Robert Joseph videos online, examined etymologies, talked to specific people (in this case Jane Marston should be mentioned, was quoted). I researched poetry and reconciliation as companions in other countries, in this country, in this province (who else has linked poetry, reconciliation, in Canada, everywhere else?). I had many irritable thoughts about everything, processing through feeling and visitation (my family, old friends).

Other times: I will find myself repeatedly studying a subject and I don’t know why, until voila! some new thing arrives in the world (birthing, disgorging). The subliminal assignment is revealed.

I move back and forth between pen/paper and word-processor. I read aloud and come to understand direction more deeply through this circuitry. When it sounds right, it feels right, and it withstands the question of relevance (revisiting the original request), I move it along to the next stage: performance, submission.

If something is very challenging, I may send to a friend, “does this make sense?” I use the reader responses to offset the incorrigible worrier, to tap into that confidence trickster/word warrior.

Sometimes, as in this particular piece, I copy and paste others’ words directly into my own work [above questions from above-mentioned blogs], and thus, carry a bit of others’ energies and genii into my own passages.

All hail reciprocity!

Next stop:

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