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Tuesday, October 23, 2018

#35 Backstory of the Poem "Sobriety" by Timothy Gager . . .



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***This is the thirty-fifth in a never-ending series called BACKSTORY OF THE POEM where the Chris Rice Cooper Blog (CRC) focuses on one specific poem and how the poet wrote that specific poem.  All BACKSTORY OF THE POEM links are at the end of this piece. 

#35 Backstory of the Poem
“Sobriety”
by Timothy Gager
ctgager37@yahoo.com

Can you go through the step-by-step process of writing this poem from the moment the idea was first conceived in your brain until final form?  This is a short poem, and like most of what I write, was formed from a visual element from a place I was at. It was conceived while sitting, waiting for a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous to begin, a fellowship I don’t hide the fact that I belong to. This particular meeting was at a location which had comfortable sofas, and art on the wall. There was a newcomer sitting there, just starting at this Piccaso reprint, and also, the other art---so,  I wanted to tell this person that sobriety can exist, be comfortable, take it in small steps, one day, one hour at a time, just like that painting you were staring at, was made—one brush stroke at a time, and it took a lot of brush strokes. (Title Photo-Timothy Gager on 10-14-2018 and Above Right Timothy Gager on January 3, 2014.  Copyright permission for both photos granted by Timothy Gager for this CRC Blog Post Only) 

I also wanted to say that to her that coffee is a mainstay at meetings, so drink it, and not anything else. (Left:  Timothy Gager drinking a cup of coffee in July of 2015.  Copyright permission granted by Timothy Gager for this CRC Blog Post Only) 

I don’t know if I had a specific process with this particular poem. It probably began with the first two lines, followed by free writing. Then, I balanced the lines, the stanzas, tossed out what didn’t work---made sure the beginning and ending of the poem worked to my liking. 
When I fine tune I like double meanings, for example “Sit on the sofa, legs curled under…” as one line it’s the person’s legs, but if you take it a line at a time, it’s the sofa…not making the person comfortable, the physical wooden legs curling under, or “view the oil paintings, hung boats and fields” The paintings are hung, the boats are hung, the fields are hung. It’s general, and it’s specific to the art. (Image I Told Him:  A Complete Portrait of Picassa, 1932.  Gertrude Stein sitting on a sofa in front of a painting of herself by Picassa at her residence at 27 Rue de Fleurus.)
Where were you when you started to actually write the poem? And please describe the place in great detail?  I went home and started the poem. My work space is a desk with a laptop on it, in the corner of my living room, faced away from the television. The desk area is full of papers, and they surround the laptop on three of the four sides
What month and year did you start writing this poem?   I have absolutely no idea. Anywhere after 2014 and before 2017 (Timothy in July of 2014. Copyright permission granted by Timothy Gager for this CRC Blog Post Only) 

How many drafts of this poem did you write before going to the final? (And can you share a photograph of your rough drafts with pen markings on it?)  This poem took 8-10 drafts. I edit on the computer so there are no pen marked papers.  I work with a lot of musicality and after some time I fairly aware of my poetic voice. I’m fond of the delete button for the final draft if things don’t work out. (Left:  Timothy Gager in March of 2015.  Copyright permission granted by Timothy Gager for this CRC Blog Post Only)

Were there any lines in any of your rough drafts of this poem that were not in the final version? And can you share them with us?   Heck, I’m getting old. I have no idea what was edited out.  (Right:  Timothy Gager in December of 2016.  Copyright permission granted by Timothy Gager for this CRC Blog Post Only) 

What do you want readers of this poem to take from this poem?  That there is hope after surrendering.

Which part of the poem was the most emotional of you to write and why?  The ending. It’s the awe of a journey’s beginning and a journey, in general.  I’ve very grateful from where I’ve come from, and I can get emotional about it (Left:  Timothy Gager in March of 2017.  Copyright permission granted by Timothy Gager for this CRC Blog Post Only) 

Has this poem been published before? And if so where?  published in the book, Chief Jay Strongbow is Real, 2017, Big Table Publishing

Anything you would like to add?  Keep writing people. There’s a lot of very important things going on.



Sobriety

It can exist
drink coffee

milk, three sugars,
stirred with a straw.

Sit on the sofa,
legs curled under

view the oil paintings
hung boats and fields

thousands of brush strokes
thousands


HEAR IT on Doug Holder's podcast at 25.25

Timothy Gager is the author of fourteen books of short fiction and poetry. Every Day There Is Something About Elephants, a book of 108 flash fictions, selected by over fifty-five editors, was released by Big Table Publishing in 2018. 


He's hosted the successful Dire Literary Series in Cambridge, Massachusetts since 2001 and was the co-founder of The Somerville News Writers Festival. He has had over 500 works of fiction and poetry published and of which thirteen have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His work has been read on National Public Radio.



BACKSTORY OF THE POEM LINKS

001  December 29, 2017
Margo Berdeshevksy’s “12-24”

002  January 08, 2018
Alexis Rhone Fancher’s “82 Miles From the Beach, We Order The Lobster At Clear Lake Café”

003 January 12, 2018
Barbara Crooker’s “Orange”

004 January 22, 2018
Sonia Saikaley’s “Modern Matsushima”

005 January 29, 2018
Ellen Foos’s “Side Yard”

006 February 03, 2018
Susan Sundwall’s “The Ringmaster”

007 February 09, 2018
Leslea Newman’s “That Night”

008 February 17, 2018
Alexis Rhone Fancher “June Fairchild Isn’t Dead”

009 February 24, 2018
Charles Clifford Brooks III “The Gift of the Year With Granny”

010 March 03, 2018
Scott Thomas Outlar’s “The Natural Reflection of Your Palms”

011 March 10, 2018
Anya Francesca Jenkins’s “After Diane Beatty’s Photograph “History Abandoned”

012  March 17, 2018
Angela Narciso Torres’s “What I Learned This Week”

013 March 24, 2018
Jan Steckel’s “Holiday On ICE”

014 March 31, 2018
Ibrahim Honjo’s “Colors”

015 April 14, 2018
Marilyn Kallett’s “Ode to Disappointment”

016  April 27, 2018
Beth Copeland’s “Reliquary”

017  May 12, 2018
Marlon L Fick’s “The Swallows of Barcelona”

018  May 25, 2018
Juliet Cook’s “ARTERIAL DISCOMBOBULATION”

019  June 09, 2018
Alexis Rhone Fancher’s “Stiletto Killer. . . A Surmise”

020 June 16, 2018
Charles Rammelkamp’s “At Last I Can Start Suffering”

021  July 05, 2018
Marla Shaw O’Neill’s “Wind Chimes”

022 July 13, 2018
Julia Gordon-Bramer’s “Studying Ariel”

023 July 20, 2018
Bill Yarrow’s “Jesus Zombie”

024  July 27, 2018
Telaina Eriksen’s “Brag 2016”

025  August 01, 2018
Seth Berg’s “It is only Yourself that Bends – so Wake up!”

026  August 07, 2018
David Herrle’s “Devil In the Details”

027  August 13, 2018
Gloria Mindock’s “Carmen Polo, Lady Necklaces, 2017”

028  August 21, 2018
Connie Post’s “Two Deaths”

029  August 30, 2018
Mary Harwell Sayler’s “Faces in a Crowd”

030 September 16, 2018
Larry Jaffe’s “The Risking Point”

031  September 24, 2018
Mark Lee Webb’s “After We Drove”

032  October 04, 2018
Melissa Studdard’s “Astral”

033 October 13, 2018
Robert Craven’s “I Have A Bass Guitar Called Vanessa”

034  October 17, 2018
David Sullivan’s “Paper Mache Peaches of Heaven”

035 October 23, 2018
Timothy Gager’s “Sobriety”


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