THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY

THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY
April 12, 2016

Friday, July 30, 2010

Poetry Friday -- Writing Habits

In his introduction to my poetry chapbook, Mountain, Log, Salt and Stone, poet Michael Salcman writes:

"She knows all too well how strange and abnormal the everyday world can be. In this she follows in the path of one of her artistic lodestars, the American poet William Stafford."

Swoon. Stafford is one of my heroes. I am writing a series of poetic responses to the poems in his collection, The Darkness Around Us Is Deep. Several of these poems are in the chapbook.

As I was researching new names for my blog, I happened on the Friends of William Stafford website and his poem, "How These Words Happened."

In the interview with poet Robert Bly that introduces The Darkness Around Us, Stafford talks about his habit of rising early to write. Every day. And if the work wasn't so good that day...he said he lowers his standards! Don't you love that?

When I read "How These Words Happened," I imagine Stafford at his early morning work. There is magic in those hours, so close to sleep.

How These Words Happened

by William Stafford

In winter, in the dark hours, when others
were asleep, I found these words and put them
together by their appetites and respect for
each other. In stillness, they jostled. They traded
meanings while pretending to have only one.

Monstrous alliances never dreamed of before
began. Sometimes they lost. Never again
do they separate in this world.

Read the rest of the poem here -- that's at Friends of Stafford. Oddly, there's a slightly different version posted at a couple of websites. Here is one. It's amazing how a couple of changed words affect the poem. My guess is the second version is "correct." I'll check on that and will let you know.

What are your writing habits? Do you rise early to write like Stafford, see the kids off to school first (that's my M.O.), or do those monstrous alliances of words come to you at night?

Poetry Friday is here at Author Amok next week. Exciting! For today's round up, visit Irene at Live. Love. Explore!

11 comments:

Tabatha said...

Laura, I'm curious to hear which version is correct as I have the Friends of Stafford version up on my blog! I love Wm Stafford.

Toby Speed said...

The blogiverse is such an interesting place, because I just read that advice by Stafford to lower one's standards on another blog. That's a wonderful poem; I've read it before, and have been looking for my book of Stafford's poetry that I know I have here, somewhere, in these dark morning hours (I get up at 4:30). Good post, thanks!

KURIOUS KITTY said...

Hi Laura! I have William Stafford at my library blog today, too! www.kuriouskitty.blogspot.com

With all the gazillion poets out there, it's funny how we both found Stafford this week. I was browsing our poetry shelves and came across a paperback book I hadn't seen before. Must be some kind of cosmic message?

--Diane

Linda said...

Laura- I've tried to write morning pages, but I'm just not a morning person. I get up by 5:30 AM to be at school by 7:00 and get ready for the day. That's so hard for me.

I like to write in the evening when everything starts to slow down and everyone else is watching TV. I'm not really a late night person, just an evening person!

By the way, William Stafford is one of my poetry heroes too. He really knew how to connect with his readers.

Irene Latham said...

Hi Laura - congrats on the chapbook and the lovely Stafford-esque words! I would love to read. Have you read EARLY MORNINGS - a lovely tribute to Stafford as poet/father. Check it out!

Heidi Mordhorst said...

Laura! Isn't a facelift fun--and really, compared to liposuction or a nose job, so simple and quick! But the title, yessss...

In the spirit of the provocatively titled Mountain, Log, Salt and Stone, may I suggest that you have your cake and eat it too?

"Blackbird, Wheelbarrow, Peach and Plum"


The peach and plum together might be a little too much, but you get the idea. Also, there are good reasons that your 5th and 6th choices are at the bottom of the list. : )

Can't wait to see what you are up to, and rediscover William Stafford...

Jeannine Atkins said...

I also like William Stafford and this poem -- in whatever version. Morning is always good, though now with no one to get out of the house it seems like it takes my mind longer to get going.. what's with that?

Author Amok said...

Thanks for visiting, everyone! We're still away on vacation but I'm back online.

Tabatha -- I've got to research that. I'll try to track down the book where the poem appears.

Hi, Toby. 4:30! Is that when you do your writing? Let me know if you find the official version of the poem.

Diane -- lots of serendipity in the po-blog world. I'll look for your post.

Linda and all, I am a morning person. But 7-9 AM is busy at our house, kids getting up and getting to school. I've tried the super-early thing (like Toby), but in a house full of night owls it doesn't work well. When I'm not teaching, I try to sit down to write the minute everyone is out the door.

Thanks for the suggestion, Irene. I'm going to look for that book! Robert Bly also has a book of daily/morning poems which I enjoyed. Don't have the title write now. It may even be "Morning Poems."

Hi, Heidi! Thanks for the name suggestions. Hi, Jeannine! I wish I knew. I think I've said before, a friend of mine who's retired from teaching swears she had more time to write when she was working full time.

Author Amok said...

Oh -- and just saw this Picasso quote in a craft store on our trip: "Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working."

Tabatha said...

Love that Picasso quote, Laura!!

Author Amok said...

Me too -- it's so true.