After a week of revising some prose in a last ditch effort to get a story accepted for publication by the end of December, I have returned to some poetry.
Today’s exercise: Tell a different story.
Basically, for this, I took an older poem of mine (again, “The Tanner’s Wife“), word-mapped from it (pretty extensively, as you’ll see from the example lines), and then told a different story with the words. Because I wanted to hammer something out and make it a little fun, I didn’t try to make it make sense at first, but as it was developing, I realized it was starting to make an emotional kind of sense, so I went back and focused some lines to point more at that.
Some lines I like:
“There was a fox, a fleshing beam,
a good patina of age. There was a door,
a doe, a quiet, a quilt, a family
of three with one on the way.”
The poem became really really really fun to write. I even originally meant to type “a doe, a quilt,” but when I accidentally typed “a quiet” instead, I chose to keep it. Details I used to describe the fox in the original came to be about the speaker’s wife. I even pulled in and re-wrote a couple of lines from another poem in my manuscript, so after some editing, this could be a bridge poem with its own separate emotional story. I also repeated several words and re-used them each time, so “beam” became a “beam of light” later in the poem, and “quilt” is used as both a verb and a noun.
Off-track note: I write dark, serious poems. A friend of mine who finds me particularly funny doesn’t understand why I don’t write shticky ones that riff off my perception of society. Part of it is that I’m so serious so I only write about people dying and relationships being complicated and oh, sadness, oh pain. The other part is that I have trouble seeing “funny” poems as having any emotional weight. Subsequently, I see emotional weight as related to periods of tension or conflict, but maybe I’m ignorant of the vast majority of humorously tense (or tensely humorous) poems out there. If you know of any, comment with a link. I’d be interested to read them.
On-track note: Writing poetry can sometimes be fun.