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A Poem and Process Chat for You

Hello everyone, and happy Poetry Friday! This week we're hosted by the splendiferous Irene Latham! Head on over to her blog for some awesome book suggestions, poetry musings, and of course poetry! To celebrate Poetry Friday, I'm sharing a poem and that poem's drafting process. Enjoy!


When I sat down to write this poem, I was having trouble coming up with a topic/theme. As per usual when my brain hits a wall, I turned to my trusty random word generator. But alas! None of the words sparked an emotional response I wanted to explore on the page. So instead, I sat down for a few minutes and created my own word bank from random scraps of thought. Then I used the bank as a jumping-off point for a first draft. I re-wrote the poem 6 times, until I'd written it twice through with no changes. Then I drew a box around the most recent version of the poem, and typed it into my computer.


I usually use composition notebooks for drafting, but lately I've enjoyed filling up pages of my sketchbook that are partially used and would otherwise be wasted. (On this sheet, I had done a very rough sketch of a pathway for a handmade map.) I find that rotating the page into different positions to write, changing the size/spacing of the writing, and fitting the poem into smaller and smaller spaces helps shake me loose from previous drafts and hone in on what resonates in the poem. This method isn't one I use all the time, but when I'm stuck it helps! What about you? Have you ever turned your notebook upside down or sideways to see what falls out when you do? If not, maybe give it a try!


Here is my messy drafting page. I've labelled the locations of the word bank and each draft of the poem in order, in case you want to try to decipher my scrawl. (I've also typed the words in the word bank and the first draft of the poem into the image caption and alt text description.)


Word bank words: whoosh, drawn, routine, summer turning, bright, reflect, perhaps, sideways, wishes, sometimes, birdhouse, leaves, run, squirrel, alas, always, crunch, sky, maybes, sun, song, polka-dot, pond, veil, cloud-fire, sadness, reflect, turning, ring, pumpkin, starlight, edges of gold Poem First Draft: I expect every day / the sun will hide behind hills / and the sky will rotate sideways / into night's star-speckled darkness. / I know this turning will happen, / yet every sunset / I am startled by / cloud-fire, / bright edges and hues and shapes / I catch on the inhale, / and hold like treasures / in the mind.
Word bank words: whoosh, drawn, routine, summer turning, bright, reflect, perhaps, sideways, wishes, sometimes, birdhouse, leaves, run, squirrel, alas, always, crunch, sky, maybes, sun, song, polka-dot, pond, veil, cloud-fire, sadness, reflect, turning, ring, pumpkin, starlight, edges of gold Poem First Draft: I expect every day / the sun will hide behind hills / and the sky will rotate sideways / into night's star-speckled darkness. / I know this turning will happen, / yet every sunset / I am startled by / cloud-fire, / bright edges and hues and shapes / I catch on the inhale, / and hold like treasures / in the mind.

Here is the current version of the poem, as it is now saved in my computer:


I catch cloud-fire on the inhale-- gold-pink-tangerine edges too fragile to fight a breeze, so I hold my breath. -Sarah Grace Tuttle


You might be wondering why the poem doesn't have a title. Truth be told, when I first write them most of my poems don't. It can take a long time for me to find a title that highlights/adds to the poem without feeling redundant or like it interferes with the progress of the poem's cadence or emotional arc. This one may get a title one day, or it may stay as it is. Only time will tell...


My November write-a-thon is off to a slow start, but I have 4 poem drafts I didn't have before and I'm both picking up speed and happy about the poems I've drafted. So, I'm calling this experiment a win so far. Hope all your writing efforts are going well also!





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