I’m still revising/adding to a manuscript that, long story short, I wrote half of in 2001, and half in the past year. It was a finalist for the Nightboat Book Prize a few months ago; before that, back in 2001-03 in its first life, parts of it were published in various magazines and as a chapbook (bird-book).
ANYWAY, it might be called mnemotechnics and it’s about birds, or it’s “about” how life-lists (the list that a bird watcher keeps to remember what birds she’s seen and in what context) become mnemonic devices for one’s own personal memories.
So here’s the poem I wrote Monday about goldfinches. It’s not “done”– I feel like it’s too dense on the page.
Typically, when I start writing I will do one of two things: 1. Put a few scant images on the page and research to fill out the image with myth and science and other materials. [Note: everything qualifies as material.] 2. Put everything on the page and whittle down, sometimes moving lines or images into other poems that don’t have as much. [Poetry as socialism.]
I think of poetry as sculptural (cf. my essay, “The Plasticity of Poetry”) and some poems are like collages that I add to, stealing images and lines and stories from elsewhere, while other poems are like carvings, where I whittle away and maybe save some of the shavings for the collages.