Sunday, October 28, 2007


A small milestone today: normally I write most of the first drafts of poems in a small moleskin notebook (I always carry one around, something I learned from my friend and collaborator on The Alphabet of the Trees poet Christian McEwen--though I'm not sure she carries a moleskin--it's just the idea of always having a notebook handy). I've found what this has meant is that I write most of my poems someplace else and not in my study. In my study is where I revise, it's almost as though I need (or like) multiple places for beginning and then a central place for working to make the poems better and better.

So there are usually two notebooks that are active at once: the notebook I'm writing in and the notebook I'm writing from. I like to have that distance from the first version to the one I'm going to start revising. Mostly this is to make sure I think the poem is still worth working on. At any rate, as of today, I only have one notebook, the one I'm writing in because in a big push this weekend I finished typing and printing the poems from the notebook I started on 15 February 2007 and finished on 14 June 2007. Which means a nice pile of poems to begin seriously revising over the next weeks. Which is something I'm excited about because revision is something I really like (I'd say love but it's also sometimes so frustrating, but I suppose so is love). I have to say that when I had a residency at VCCA last March (I was on leave last semester) I got a chance to revise with an intensity I'd never had because I arrived with a over one hundred poems. Some I realized pretty quickly I didn't want to work on, but most I did. So for eight, nine, ten hours a day, that was all I did, revise, revise revise (of course I also worked on Poet in New York, sometimes talking with Pablo three or four times a day)., I might have started ten or fifteen new poems the whole time there. It was just working and re-working. What emerged was my Celia Cruz fue la voz tropical manuscript, which I continue to revise even as I'm working on new poems.

So the milestone is the retirement of this notebook, all these new poems to think about. The current moleskin I probably won't finish it for another month, maybe two (this has been a hard working semester) and it's unlikely I'll even begin typing out any poems that are in there until then.

I like when things like this happen, when I feel like I've accomplished something, even as I'm still in the middle of it.


Band of the Land said...

It's nice to hear that you've filled up another Moleskine. I don't use Moleskines for writing, just for ideas, so I'm still on my second.

Bryan's workshop blog said...

I share band's sentiment.

Thanks for the post - it reminds me to return to my moleskine!