There's a story told about Lucille Clifton--it may or may not be literally true, but it points to a truth for many of us. Someone asked why she wrote short poems when she was younger and longer poems as she got older. I suspect the questioner was expecting an answer that had something to do with wisdom and skill.
Instead, Lucille Clifton talked about the lives of her children shaping the short poems in terms of the amount of time she had to get thoughts on paper.
I, too, tend to write poems that are shorter. Part of it's habitual, part of it has to do with how much time I have, and part of it has to do with ideas that run out of steam so the poem is over. Most of my poems are a little longer than an 8 x 11 sheet of paper with regular lines.
Yesterday I wrote 4 pages. Will it all be one poem? I don't know, but it was an amazing experience.
I had been having a good poetry writing morning, after weeks of feeling dry and drained when it comes to writing and life in general. Yesterday I had already written one poem and some various lines when I decided to freewrite a bit about harvest moons and harvests and elegies and prophets. The freewriting didn't really go anywhere, but all of a sudden whole stanzas popped into my head. I wrote and wrote--4 pages worth. Wow.
And then I kept my legal pad nearby. I'd do something else, and then another stanza popped into my head. It was great.
Of course, because I was having a great poetry morning, I didn't do much with my novel or with grading for my online classes or any of the other activities I feel I need to do. But that's O.K.
The rest of the day was consumed with getting the last of our stuff out of the cottage and helping my sister-in-law move in. Later in the day, we ate a yummy meal together (grilled salmon, grilled burgers, assorted sides), and then we decompressed. We took the Bahamian refugee couple home, while my sister-in-law and her friend returned the moving van. My spouse and I relaxed in the pool and went to bed early.
For a day that at one point had promised stormy weather, it turned out to be a very good day. And now it's off to church--there will be meetings, but there will also be breakfast and some time to sketch and some time to sit in stillness.
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