When you’re submitting a book, it’s a good idea to help the reader along a bit, to prove to them what skills you have as a capital-P Poet, which for whatever reason is synonymous to varying degree with efficiency AKA shortness. So that was the goal: to write an efficient and powerful lyrical poem to open the book to act as an introduction to the meaning of the book and to allow for the longer, lyric-narrative poems that followed.
Where were you when you started to actually write the poem? And please describe the place in great detail. I was in my one bedroom apartment on West Freeman Street in Carbondale, Illinois where I was working toward my MFA at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. The place was super small because my ex-wife and I were splitting time between Carbondale and Nashville where I am from and where she had a good gig at Vanderbilt University. Thus we had two rents; thus we had two super small apartments.
The doorways were arched. Cracks spiderwebbed the walls and ceilings. Our pet rabbits thoroughly enjoyed scampering about on the carpeted floors and, much to our chagrin, nibbling it down to the hardwoods. The single-story complex was shaped like a U with a solitary burr oak at its center. It sat across the street from the university and was unusually quiet given how close it was to an institution of higher learning. I wrote a lot of poems there, and the two of us were happy. I miss that place.
November 9, 2007.
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?) I have a practice of saving every typed draft of a poem I am working on, no matter how minute the revisions are from draft to draft. “Singing” is no different. The final version is draft 32. Here is the first:
https://www.facebook.com/rodney.jones.5855594 to no end; God bless him for putting up with me.
He is also founder & editor of PoemoftheWeek.com, founder and editor of the Floodgate Poetry Series, Acquisitions Editor for Upper Rubber Boot Books, and lecturer of creative writing at Colorado Community College. Learn more at https://www.andrewmk.com/