Drafting: “Philomela”

After yesterday’s post, I started playing with some of the suggestions I pulled from Hugo’s Triggering Town in order to try to complete a draft of that poem.

First, I took the poem out of its form, moving it from tercets to just one long stanza. This helped me feel a little less restricted by the form.

Then, I took out the tongue-tearing-out just to focus less on the myth and try to read what the poem was saying more. I found myself adding industrial markers to the poem–a drainage pipe, carbon–which immediately set the poem in a time separate from the myth.

I felt pretty pleased with all of those changes, but I still found myself stuck with where to go. The poem needed a narrative direction. I finally brought in the viciousness of the tongue-tearing, but added a different flavor to it by comparing the act to the emissions a steel factory spits into the sky.

By choosing to immediately pull the poem out of the time period of the myth, I felt free to include industry in a way that felt just as brutal as the original myth. What was important for me here is to not feel trapped by the triggering subject. I then used language like “scab,” “red and raw,” “maw,” making the factory and the drainage pipes both human and grotesque. I finally ended with a clear comparison between the brutality of the rape/violence and the industry that invades the landscape:

The steel factory in the distance spits at the sky.

The stump of the swallow’s tongue flounders

and strikes no note.


There is more work to be done here, but I’m glad to finish this draft!

3 thoughts on “Drafting: “Philomela”

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