Thursday, March 5, 2009

Another process.

My latest poem went out with the last batch of submissions, and had only been finished the day before. I don't usually send out poems quite so fresh, but I feel pretty good about this one.

It began as a very very rough draft of simple language arranged simply on the page in a simple separation of simple ideas. My idea was to explore the unfortunate feeling of preferring to stay indoors, even on a beautiful sunny day, and that sometimes it is just easier to stay inside. The first draft included the notion that this preference may have been ingrained into us from an early stage of evolution. The only spot of brilliance in this early work was the voice of the poem damning "that woman/ and her cave,/ her womb" after having questioned "what ancestor live longer, had more/ children never/ leaving her cave?"

The poem lacked concrete imagery. I decided to work with the image of the cave, and tried to think of what could be in this cave, a metaphor representing an early ancestor. I thought perhaps a flower, out of it's element within the cave, delicate yet sheltered. A google search brought up Gypsum Flowers, and I was fascinated. Not actually a living plant, Gypsum Flowers are rock formations found in caves, with highly organic looking forms, not unlike flowers. Beautiful. Delicate. Somehow wrong, but just right for this poem. And so the image of some form of impossible seed entering the cave and blossoming until "gypsum flowers flow/ across the walls of a cave" was created and begins this poem.

At this point the direction of the diction was set down. Words pertaining to rocks, caves, etc would keep the piece in key, and great language was definitely what this poem needed to get going. Druse, rock, vein, ore, fossils, dendrites, crags, hollows, bore, crusts, slag, core, roots, pebbles. The diction connects the idea of inorganic cave materials, to the organic materials that make up the speaker, yet at the end of the poem the speaker herself is reduced to "the minerals of [her] mass."

The choice of diction both determines and is determined by the sounds within the poem, and the rhythms and movements emerges: "druse/ this brood of rock/ arouses"; "vein of ore that must course"; "fossils/ even. And fingers fumble"; "the crags of hollows, a grotto"; "what woman ached to escape"; "gypsum spirals and satin spars".

Line breaks and enjambment were carefully considered to help control the movement of the language, to help layer meaning, and provide a few kicks and punches when needed: "as if some seed crawled into depths/ dark to brood and be alone", in this example, the enjambment provides "dark" with a double meaning; both the seed and the depths can be thought of as dark, and challenges the reader.

The poem itself is split into roughly three parts. The first introduces the imagery of the cave and rocks, and connects that imagery and the reader with the speaker. The second introduces the idea of the woman as ancestor, seeking refuge in the cave, bearing children in its safety. The final part connects the speaker and her feelings towards this woman, and what that woman's actions have left within the speaker herself: "Damn that woman/ and her cave,/ her womb."

The poem finishes with a concrete image that the reader can take with them. It's perfect. It was a "fuck ya!" moment. Take that Oprah and your "ah-ha" moments :P

At the end, the poem got its title. Agoraphobe. Not even a real word! But as a poet I can ultimately do whatever I want, and besides, you all know what I mean, right?