Archives for October 2014

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A Story’s Voice

In what is clearly an embarrassment of riches, I’ve now had the honor of having three different pieces recorded by audiobook narrator Xe Sands. It’s a fascinating experience to hear your words filtered through someone else’s voice, especially when that someone makes a living doing just that and knows what she’s doing. She did a really cool split performance for “Not” that matched the style of the poem perfectly:

 

There weren’t really any surprises for me in listening to someone else’s take on “Not.” Other than a rather undignified amount of “That’s so cool!” squeeing at hearing one of my poems performed, the emotional content was as familiar in the listening as it was in the writing. “Dictum” was a very different story:

 

I almost never consciously choose the voice of anything I write. Male or female; young or old; first, second, or third person and past or present tense are all factors that seem to occur because a piece of fiction demands it, not as an intentional framework I enforce on my words. “Dictum” was a bit different. As obviously intentional as it is in structure, the content is some of the most organic I’ve written although it didn’t start out that way. The entry in my Scrivener poetry file for that one has attempt after attempt to say what I wanted — in third person, second person, and a very removed first person. It was only when I told myself to stop massaging any part of it and just write the emotional content with the direct first person perspective the words demanded that the poem seemed to flow.

As much as I have to say about the structure and creation method of the poem, I don’t have any particular desire to walk through the content except to say this one caught me by complete surprise in hearing it read aloud by someone else. As intimate as our own words would seem, I thought “Dictum” was a pretty soft volley out into the void and it didn’t cross back into my own personal emotional DMZ until I heard it in someone else’s voice, at which point there was a bit of a detonation. In her written intro to it, Xe Sands speaks far more eloquently about its content than I ever will:

“Been thinking quite a bit lately about damage – how past damage in our lives continues to effect us long after the inner bruises have faded into funny little stories we tell our friends when comparing notes on our dysfunctional lives. But those stories have roots, and sometimes, they continue to bear poison fruit. We think we’re clear of it. We think it’s in the past, that we’ve named and claimed it, disempowered it, trivialized it so we can fold it away. But sometimes…well, sometimes we realize we’re still baking with poison apples.”

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Poetry on the Brain

A brain scan provides evidence of something I’ve suspected for a while now: catch me at any given moment and I’ll have a poem stuck in my head that I can’t get out (or at least, that I can’t extract without mangling it).

 

Stuck_Poem

 

 

 

quote

Dictum

I tried to make it sound prettier
I called it payments made
but the currency of flesh
of bruise and blood and sometimes bone
that never sounds
(and there were always sounds)
anything but ugly
where home took it’s shape
in the insulation of silence
so perfect from the outside
what did we even earn in exchange?
accruing a balance of
too much vodka with
failed marriages
the need to run
and never calling anywhere home
with a hard anger turned inward
until the edges cut and
he always told us
you get what you pay for