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Sunday, February 9, 2014

Every story tells a story

Actually I think it's seventeen.
So pursuant to that post of Thursday -- that of which we shall not write, the Voldemort of posts! -- I got to thinking about story, because that pale-poem started out as a flippant list of stuff I probably shouldn't write about, then ended up about something else.

And, serendipitously, that thing it's about is something that's not mentioned in our little list, first by accident; then when the poem went a place I didn't anticipate, if I HAD mentioned the thing it's about, I would have edited it the hell out of there. If it were a better poem I would just totally take credit for its brilliance but as it's pretty pale I'll just come clean.

But what I like best about this sorry excuse for poetry is another thing that happened by accident -- it started out as a silly list, just something I was having fun with, thinking about the things I play with in pale-poems, the subjects, the images, and realizing they are pretty repetitive, and putting those things in a 'worst-of' list that the internet is so fond of.

And then the list took a turn and seemed like it needed an ending because evidently it was not just a list, and you know I'm a sucker for an ending that's maybe a little twisty, and the last lines became a list themselves, and a hint of what the poem is really about, and, I think most importantly, hinted at a story. The list became a story.

Of course this makes me think of Ray, who said it better (duh) and told stories so, so well. He talks about starting a story or poem with a first line, and then writing another line and then another until he was done (Hemingway said something similar) (And it reminds me about the proverb 'A journey of 1,000 miles begins with one step).

Here's something Ray said about how he wrote that I like very much:
... I begin the story and it takes a natural course. Most often I'm not aware, when I start a poem or story, of where it's going until I get there. Not while I'm writing it.
Takes a lot of pressure off.

I've lost the exact quote -- it's either in Fires or in Conversations with Raymond Carver, I think -- about how, even through his stories and poems seem real -- memoirs or true stories or whatever -- they are not, although they may have a basis or beginning in something real. Or an influence.

He also talked about revising a poem 30 or 40 times and I hear that. For me it should be 1,000 times. So you don't feel cheated you get another working version.

Oh I also wanted to explain the this in the title.

This, of Which We Shall Not Write

in poems includes:

Death, one’s own or others’,
   esp. when treated
       metaphorically

Self-referentiality
   and meta-anything

Time, fast or slow passage of, and/or
   one’s own age,
      esp. self-indulgently

Our aloneness in general,
   as part of a (madding or otherwise) crowd or
      when actually alone

Weather, specifically:
  • snow, slowly falling or in blizzards 
  • thunderstorms, violent 
  • sky, blue and/or brilliant 
  • the sun, especially dawns 
  • clouds, any kind 
  • spring and its fertility 
  • fall in all its glory 
  • wind, light breezes to hurricane strength 
  • dreariness, excessive 
  • rain, sound of
Cats

Romance, consummated
   or not

Melancholy, esp. during insomnia (see loneliness)

Journeys, short or long,
   inc. and perhaps particularly metaphorical ones

God and/or other deities:
  • grandeur, or 
    • lack of
  • disconnect (from humanity) 
  • inadequacies (esp. of religion) 
  • presence in ‘Nature’ 
  • gender of 
  • relatives of and 
    • their possible past and future resurrections
Sentimentality, esp. cloying

Vastness of space (see ‘God’)
   including number and clarity of stars
       constellations
         and
            possible interstellar neighbors (or lack of)

Gardens, in season or out

Wonder, especially in/of children (inc. innocence, or lack of)

Suffering, personal or
   of the human race in general,
      across all cohorts and the
         time-space continuum,
            esp. during illness (extended or fatal; inc. observed)

Suicide in all
   its forms and attempts,
      successes or failures,
          inc. repercussions from.

At all costs, avoid
imaginative speculation;
do not attempt 
to describe the 
infinite
black
relentless
silent
frozen
emptiness
of most of the universe,
nor the state
of one’s heart, esp.

      without 

                     you.


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