Drafting: “Losing a Baby”

As I wrote in my last post, I started writing again after a 10 month drought. I returned to poetry slowly.

I found myself reading it again sometimes. A poem here or there. Then a handful from a literary journal. Then every poem in a literary journal. Then a collection.

Around the time I started going through all of the poems in a literary journal, I found myself skimming words that rose to the top, and once I had words, the poems were already half-formed.

The first official one I wrote was one taken from a model.

Pick any poem. Use its line breaks, form, etc. as a model, and start rewriting it. Change every word possible, but try to follow the “template” of the original. It’s okay if the framing is similar because, more than likely, this will just be an inspiration for a poem; it will be a little too clunky to be the final.

“Your belly becomes a coffin. Watch

its swells rise like sheets
over a phantom haunting your sleep.”

I’ve never lost a baby, never even been pregnant, but I spent the whole process of writing this poem crying. It reminded me of a quote from Robert Frost: “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.”

I felt so inspired about the act of writing again that I immediately turned around and submitted this and a couple other new poems to some reach-for-the-stars journals like The Kenyon Review and The New Yorker. It felt like a wild and impulsive decision since these poems feel very fragile and untested, but it felt good to shove them into the light and maybe even try to give them wings. (They have already received some rejection, but I’m still riding the high!)

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