I have this chapbook out from Dzanc Books, which Matt Bell picked for the Collagist Chapbook Contest in 2012.
I wrote the poems for the chapbook in fall of 2011, surprisingly enough in a craft class.
Usually, a craft class is a space of experimentation and weirdness for me. I get to do a bunch of fun things and maybe get one poem out of the mess I create. Mostly, it’s a lot of learning to be used later, when I’m unaware of the learning.
But for some reason, in this particular class, which studied and practiced different ways of (re-) (un-)writing history in poems, I wrote nearly forty poems. Some of them were fragments or wholes created out of older wholes or fragments, but many were brand new poems in forms that were new to me.
Turns out, I kept notes during this time.
This page seems to be the first draft of “VII Nine Times, Devoutly” or nine translations of a short poem by Mechthild of Magdeburg. One might read the final version of the poem here.
I like how I scratch something out and then tick it to let myself know I was wrong to scratch it out.
I also like that I snuck in some Pessoa (via Zenith), as if Pessoa were translating Mechthild and I, Pessoa.
This page has all sorts of things. Clearly, I didn’t use all of it.
The lines immediately about “abstemious” must be the very first draft (pre-draft?) of “III The Bitch.”
That line by Kathleen Peirce is astonishing and I think also true, but I don’t want to say, “That’s true,” because everyone says, “That’s true,” making everything less true. So, I’ll just say: astonishing. And if you haven’t read her work before, you must now.
This page is all about the hilarity: “use Riccoboni’s format—they look like cells!”
In case you’re kind enough to wonder, this is a reference to Sister Bartolomea Riccoboni’s chronicle and necrology of Corpus Domini, a fifteenth-century Venetian convent, which is translated by Daniel Bornstein and available from University of Chicago Press. The necrology, especially, is composed of small square blocks of prose (“cells”), and apparently it is a shape I stole for some of the poems.
And then you see me deciding the size of the cells and making more scratch marks.
You can tell I’ve never taken an art class.
OK, now here’s a recording of some of the poems that I just made:
This was fun!