Tuesday, December 11, 2018

#47 Backstory of the Poem "Memorial Day" by Jeffrey Pearson

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***This is the forty-seventh 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. 
Below: Title photo of Jeffrey Pearson in November of 2018.  Copyright permission granted by Jeffrey Pearson for this CRC Blog Post Only.

#47 Backstory of the Poem
“Memorial Day”
by Jeffrey Pearson

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?   Poetry prompts tend to be hit and miss with me. Mostly miss. The prompt for this poem was to write from a photograph. Much of what I wrote is true and much is not, notably the fact this photograph does not exist except in my mind’s camera.(Above Right.  Attributed to and copyright permission granted by Jeffrey Pearson for this CRC Blog Post Only) 
Dad wore a t-shirt out in the heat of a holiday weekend at relatives, listening to the Indianapolis 500 on the car radio. It was in DeKalb, noted for seed corn, not Chicago remembered for its big shoulders and its politics. Somehow relatives morphed from one family to another with some sharp details. I’ve written many dad poems, so this began long ago. (Left:  Gerald Ira Pearson on September 11, 2012.  Copyright permission granted by Jeffrey Pearson for this CRC Blog Post Only)  
The legacy father passes to son has fascinated me since viewing Bertolucci’s film “The Spider’s Stratagem.” Any dad poem written by a son has me asking what ripples cast out by the father wash up at the feet of the son.

Where were you when you started to write the poem? And please describe the place in detail.  What month and year did you start writing this poem?   I might have started the poem in a workshop, but the first time on a computer was an afternoon in July 2013. I work on a heavy library table, nearly always typing in Pages or Word. A snowdrift of paper covers much of the surface, and I can find things until I need to. (Right:  Father and Son in June of 2013.  Copyright permission granted by Jeffrey Pearson 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?) 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?   I can resurrect three significant changes. Firebird gets replaced by a more generic and accessible Pontiac

Schlitz beer changes to Stag in a later draft. I often begin poems without punctuation. For the most part, this poem stayed that way, but some lines were brought up.

I listen to a campus radio station late at night which plays a lot of Sinatra. He wormed his way into the end months later and nicely shadows the moon and dad.

No poem is ever finished. The title has changed since it was published, along with a little tightening up. 

What do you want readers of this poem
to take from this poem?   What can I say? If you’ve seen “Midnight in Paris,” you’ll understand: Dalí! The persistence of memory, but the fact it is liquid.

Which part of the poem was the most emotional of you to write and why?   I suppose the most resonant part of the poem is dad leaving. He suffered with Alzheimer’s, so he spent a long time leaving before he died. This was written during that time. (Left:  Gerald Ira Pearson in June of 2014.  Copyright permission granted by Jeffrey Pearson for this CRC Blog Post Only) 

Has this poem been published before?  And if so where?   The poem was published on Flying Island and later, the Indiana Humanities website.

Below:  Jeffrey Pearson in November 2017.  Copyright permission granted by Jeffrey Pearson for this CRC Blog Post Only

Jeffrey Owen Pearson’s poems have appeared in The Best of Flying Island, So It Goes, Reckless Writing 2014 AnthologyTipton Poetry Journal, Flying Island, and Maize. “I have fallen asleep again reading Homer” placed third in the 2014 Writers Digest Poetry Awards. Pudding House Publications published his chapbook Hawaii Slides. A board member of the Midwest Writers Workshop, he lives in Muncie, IN.


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

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”

036  October 30, 2018
Gary Glauber’s “The Second Breakfast”

037  November 04, 2018
Heather Forbes-McKeon’s “Melania’s Deaf Tone Jacket”

038 November 11, 2018
Andrena Zawinski’s “Women of the Fields”

039  November 00, 2018
Gordon Hilger’s “Poe”

040 November 16, 2018
Rita Quillen’s “My Children Question Me About Poetry” and “Deathbed Dreams”

041 November 20, 2018
Jonathan Kevin Rice’s “Dog Sitting”

042 November 22, 2018
Haroldo Barbosa Filho’s “Mountain”

043  November 27, 2018
Megan Merchant’s “Grief Flowers”

044 November 30, 2018
Jonathan P Taylor’s “This poem is too neat”

045  December 03, 2018
Ian Haight’s “Sungmyo for our Dead Father-in-Law”

046 December 06, 2018
Nancy Dafoe’s “Poem in the Throat”

047 December 11, 2018
Jeffrey Pearson’s “Memorial Day”

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