Last week I checked out a book on villanelles just before our library's writer's group--it was a tiny book and the poems looked like they would be fun to read (and to read aloud while the dogs snooze--I am just as snooze-inducing as daytime tv, provided the word "treat" isn't liberally sprinkled throughout the stanzas). Repetition makes for a nice verbal lilt and taking in a large selection allows the formality to become the structure of a city of thought rather than a restrictive artifice.
Tonight's noodling won't be a villanelle: I have a couple of potential lines and a possible direction but nothing more than a mood yet. Perhaps I will eventually allow myself to play with the idea of sock-eating as stress reduction. Our Eskie mix hurt either a paw or shoulder last week and his tenderness (and random yelps, followed by our concerned hovering) has pushed the retriever into a frenzy of sock chewing. This amounted to one evening's toll of five socks, one of which I found flung into the tv paraphernalia, one button, and a pair of decorative fluffy balls.
Instead of socks and formal architecture, here is a passing thought regarding the reading I've been doing lately.
My teachers' spines are broken and they lie
Soft and bent upon the desk.
"Scrape the roots of your eyes from the base
of your soul," they extol.
A new world comes when new sight
illuminates the junk;
An apocalyptic closet window,
Sun excavating dust.
The insight of the cleaner at the counter
Who scrubs to see the bowl.
"Break us further, wider open; scrape us
velvet in your hands."
But...I close them, press them tightly
into metal racks and go.
Sunshine blue surrounds me, warm resin
haze, pines in rows--
Should I be broken, be relinquished?
Let the old world stand.
Is this poem done? I'm not sure. There is no structure to it and I'm not sure that it covers the resistance that I encounter as I'm trying to assimilate information, to create the understanding that I feel that I should have begun to acquire years ago.
It shocks me how little investment I made in understanding literature/culture/the basis of good writing when I was in school. Have you ever read The Phantom Tollbooth? Aside from being an awesome, amazing, perfect fantasy novel to encounter one random afternoon while you are in school, perhaps home with a cold, it contains a character that I am embarrassed to admit I have been. I have been The Humbug, who swims in the Ocean of Knowledge and emerges completely dry.
Then again, once upon a time, I had no idea that there would be lit crit that would interest me or that my understanding of literature (received lists of books to be read, quoted, essayed, and forgotten) would change. At some point, you have to invest in making a life, in developing a point of view, in figuring out what the freaking novel draft glaring at you from the edge of the desk is trying to say.
So...next Wednesday, a villanelle about the joys of socks to get you through the tough spots?