Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Balance & Balancing

First, this creepy Christmas video:



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I'm in the home stretch as far as the quarter goes. Poetry portfolios are piling up, but I can grade them fairly quickly. All in all, a great pair of classes and a solid bunch of students.

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I booked my flight to St. Louis, MO for the River Styx at Duffy's reading. I'll also be reading at SIU Carbondale. I'll be in that part of the world from January 19th to the 21st.

Then it's off again to the Midwest for AWP.

Then AGAIN in March for the Good Thunder Reading Series.

I'm glad I'm staying put for the holidays.

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So about my manuscript-making commentary. I'm so glad a lot of you have chimed in and have sent me e-mails.

I've forgotten to mention that I'm a big fan of balance. It's a principle that relies not only on my intuition but on the poems I've written. It also may determine whether I'll be writing more poems for a collection.

Anchors, to me, are poems that I use to force balance in a collection. I've already talked about long poems or multi-sectioned poems in previous posts. But I would be remiss if I didn't mention titles as anchors. A title can suggest a context, linkage, a chronology. Kingdom, Phyla, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species . . .

So looking at my tentative titles in the previous post, I've got a lot of poems with similar titles. Now, I could certainly section 'em off, but what I'm leaning towards doing is distributing them. I don't think I'd be interested in reading a book that has a section where every poem starts with "Self Portrait. . . " All those "Self Portrait" poems are narratives, too, while the Childhood poems are pretty lyrical. There's no way I could pull off having those poems cordoned off in separate sections because the transition from one section to the next would be too jarring. So I'll be using the Childhood poems as chronological anchors, placing them at specific intervals in the manuscript--beginning, middle, and ending.

But there's a part of me that wants to disrupt the notion of a chronology, so I think I'll use the fatherhood and self-portrait poems as counter-anchors. I don't want the collection to merely move forward through time.

I'll play with my manuscript order a bit and I'll post my tentative Table of Contents later.

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Current Spins: R.E.M., all their I.R.S. records catalog.

Current Reads: Student Portfolios and Thesis Projects. Yay!

3 comments:

Barbara Jane Reyes said...

Hey Ollie

I like what you are saying here regarding balance and anchors. I think that distributing your different series throughout may possibly hit upon another possible principle of organization: cyclical types of structures, which I think, when executed well, can be more compelling to read than linear and/or chronological.

Anyway, glad to hear you are cranking out ms#3 in some certain terms. I gotta get movin! This is motivating me towards a project or two.

Anonymous said...

Okay, dude. I'm sending you my therapist bill for posting that video. I was actually fine with it until the mole popped up.

Oliver de la Paz said...

Hey BJ,

Welcome back from the PI. Yeah, I've been working on this sequence for awhile. When I was in SF, I read from the Manong poems sequence which is another project. I've got, like, three projects I just can't find the time to attend to. I'm "house cleaning" right now, because I'm getting a little confused with my submissions packets--pairing up what poems goes with what.

And Anon, I did say it was a "creepy" Christmas video. :D