How a Poem Almost Makes Itself. Not.

I am going to describe here how the poem was made since Sheri and Charlene asked so nicely.  I cannot believe how much I am leaving out, but that is necessarily so, right?  Here goes:

1.Write in my online Google Form: writing a story worthy moment from the day before. “Homework for Life” is Matthew Dicks’ way of generating stories for the Moth. Stole it from him and adapted it here.

2. Number one above often leads to content to write in a 10-minute muse. I write this by hand in my writer’s notebook. (see pic below)

3. Highlight what seems “right”.  Sometimes there is nothing to highlight. If so, I will write some more or go back to my daybooks and mine my past for something.

4. Save the highlighted material in a document. I use IAWriter for this. It has very low distraction quotient for this simple word processor. It is what it is. Simple.

5. This writing was disjointed, three seemingly disparate ideas: rewilding, dreaming, and books.

6. Held the idea in my head that this could (and still could) be three small poems.

7. Deciding that the “framework” of wandering inside my own heart might work? Very vague, but the poem might hang together in me as a dialogue between my italic self and my regular-fonted self.

8. This form of call and response really tied the room together, dude.  At least it tied the three small poems together into one poem that wonders about dreams supplanted, dreams absconded, dreams ‘mine own’.

9. I printed out the roughest draft and then began to stitch it together into one electric current of meaning, editing on paper.

10. Published.  Bad habit I have gotten into (or maybe not) of working through as many drafts as I can stand or have time for and then sharing it.  I think it makes for quick fixes, satisfying at first, then not so much.  Further revision is always possible, but I never seem to get around to that.

So this poem, like all art, is a constructed object. It is built.  Many decisions, most not mentioned here, went into its creation.  Some of them are more important than others, but the process is always idiosyncratic, perhaps even iconoclastic. My biggest personal discovery is that it is the regular call and response from within that makes these objects possible and from that to probable.  Now…if only I could discover a similar process for writing non-fiction.  This only seems to work for me with poetry.  Could you share your workflow for that or for anything else that has value for you?  I hope so.


  1. // Reply

    Pulling back the veil posts are some of my favorites

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