Monday, July 20, 2015

Chat with a Poet on July 24

A few places are left in the class on Saturday, July 25, with Michael Diebert. 


Our space is limited to ten people in a class at Writers Circle around the Table, so contact me and send your fee for this most interesting class. See registration form at top of page. 

When Michael Diebert taught at Writers Circle a couple of years ago, his student evaluation sheets told me he was greatly appreciated for his work.

This class is especially interesting as it uses bits and pieces of old poems, parts that you have cut out of a poem or a line you really like, but didn't find a good way to use it.

I have many of those bits and pieces in my files and I am looking forward to seeing how I can bring them back to life, salvage them from the junk yard of used words. 

I am also looking forward to Michael's Chat with a Poet  at Joe's Coffee House, 82 Main Street, Hayesville, NC on Friday afternoon, July 24, 4:30 p.m.

We get to hear some of Michael's own poetry and talk with him about poetry, about how he selects poems for the Chattahoochee Review which he edits. Beginning poets will find his talk interesting and will be able to ask those questions you have been wondering about.

We will have some snacks furnished by Writers Circle and Joe's has great coffee and tea as well as a wine bar. There is no cost for the event, but Joe would like for you to pay for the coffee, tea or wine.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Guest Post by Michael Diebert, Poetry Editor at Chattahoochee Review

Today we are honored to have Michael Diebert as our guest on Writers Circle around the Table. He has written a most interesting post for us. Be sure to read this if you are a poet. Thanks, Michael, for taking time to guest on our blog.


Salvage and Reconstruction: Thoughts on a Poem in Progress
By Michael Diebert

Two years ago, when poet Andrew Hudgins led a workshop at the college where I teach, he showed us work he'd been doing on a poem.  He had written it in blank verse, unrhymed and rhymed iambic tetrameter, and with two- and three-beat accentual lines.  He'd even cast it as a prose poem.  As the forms dictated, he’d added words, took them out, moved them to other lines, and indeed redefined the line for each occasion.  The impulse was largely metrical and musical, but if form dictates content, he was also tinkering with meaning.  His patience astounded me.  After all that work, he concluded it was probably a failed poem, a good subject for a lecture such as the one he was giving.

Recently, I have been working on a poem modeled after Bob Hicok's poem "A primer."   Hicok's poem is a relatively succinct 44 lines.  Mine currently stands at about three single-spaced handwritten pages.  It is a shambolic stab at Tennessee facts and history, a chagrined interrogation of my hometown.  I am trying to be funny, and I'm falling flat.  I am trying to be probing and exact and fair.  I am trying to, as usual, account for the unusual and the otherwise overlooked.  In its current form, the poem is untenable; only recently have I realized this. I still like it, and I still think I'm onto something.  After my usual practice of putting the poem away for a while to let it marinate and age, what do I do now?  I have rewritten and expanded it at least twice, to little avail.  The same flailing, the same chest-beating is there. 

Within the last two weeks, though, I've started to go the other way, toward not just cutting but concision.  This is, I admit, not my usual strategy--I pride myself (and chide myself) on my masochistic desire to write through a problem, to add volume first and worry about depth later.  But fueled by a couple of other recent poems where I've striven for economy and precision, I am now trying to capture in fewer than 20 lines what I've been shooting for in 100-plus lines.  One benefit in trying to write this poem long is that I now see whole lines I want to keep!  This means the poem has probably been there all along, just not in the form I envisioned and, indeed, have labored so mightily to realize.  There are usable parts; it's just taken me a while to discover them.
If we poets are priests, marrying form to content, beauty to truth, then surely we are also scavengers, hovering raven-like over the broken bones of our failed drafts, using what's usable.  Or we are salvage artists in a junkyard, looking for an intact carburetor, a front bucket seat with fabric that hasn't faded, all for the purpose of reconstituting, of making them new and workable again.  To salvage is to save. 
Our workshop at Writers Circle on July 25 will be devoted to the art of poetic salvage.  We will work with your own failed or stuck poems, poems with usable parts or recoverable bones; we will work to identify these pieces and construct new organisms.  Please email me either 1) a whole poem or 2) a document of poem parts no later than Tuesday, July 21 and I will make copies for the group.