friday roundup: taking stock (again), on images and symbols, and ‘the last thing lost’

from wikimedia

from wikimedia

Dear Reader,

There is nothing on my calendar today. Not.one.thing. Therefore shall I gather mine writerly belongings and goeth to the library, and there maketh an offering unto the muse, or if the muse be absent, writeth anyway.

But first, the roundup:

taking stock (again)  It seems much of my writerly time of late has been spent taking stock. Printing, piling, sorting, listing, weaving, unweaving. I’ve been looking at all these poems and asking, Where do you want to go? What are you doing over there in that pile? Do you have to be such a loudmouth? Have you seen the Mail Order Bride lately? — she seems to be playing hide-and-seek. And other questions. And then, the residency application I worked on last week was also a big stock-taking activity.

Yesterday, in the brief window I had for writing related activities, I did some more taking stock — because I know I need to do some big revising. Because, in case you haven’t heard, lots of journals are reopening for submissions right about now.

As with so many other elements of the writing life, I’ve only learned how to take stock of my work only by doing it. There is often a lot of flailing around before clarity begins to emerge. There is some kind of intuitive process that begins to pile certain poems together, that jots notes, finds connections, sees the different organizing principles of the work (content, diction, voice, image, narrative thread, etc.).

And there is patience. The willingness to sit with incomplete ideas and let them remain incomplete.

When’s the last time you took stock of your work? Do you have a method for doing it? I’d love to hear from you in comments about this.

on images and symbols  Reader, I’m still not over it: Seamus Heaney is dead. There have been many heartening articles about his work and life all over the interwebs, and I’ve been mining them for gems. Like the one from this article in the New York Times:

In his workaday searching for “images and symbols adequate to our predicament” he included all of life,…

Because I know I’ll be boarding the good ship S.S. Revision any day now, I’m thinking about this quote through revision’s lens. I’m thinking: What if we asked these questions of our poems:

1. What predicament does this poem attempt to illuminate?
2. Is each image and/or symbol in the poem adequate to that predicament?

(Side note: Interestingly, the word ‘predicament,’ which we use to name a difficult or fraught situation or condition, comes from the Latin words for “to say” and “forth, before” — in other words, to to assert, to declare publicly, to make a claim. Yes, the subjects of our poems are public declarations. Etymology info here.)

I suspect Mr. Heaney would say that it’s difficult, if not impossible, to find symbols and images that are truly adequate to our predicament, but that it’s the job of the poet to try.

…and finally…

‘the last thing lost’  Have I ever mentioned that Verse Daily is my absolute favorite daily poetry site? No? Well it is.

Because I’m not very good at doing anything every day except drinking  coffee, brushing my teeth, and feeding my kids, I sometimes miss the day’s poem. Luckily, I stumbled across this one (can’t remember how… internet rabbit holes — I love them) better late than never. Reader, I give you “Calf” by Lisa Coffman.

Hmmm, what poem could you write under the title “the last thing lost?”

And now, it’s off to my sunny library table for me. I hope you have a wonderful Friday and a relaxing weekend. Thanks, as always, for reading.

3 thoughts on “friday roundup: taking stock (again), on images and symbols, and ‘the last thing lost’

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