Tuesday, March 5, 2019

#76 Backstory of the Poem "Inward Oracle" by J.P. Dancing Bear

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***This is the seventy-sixth 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. 
#76 Backstory of the Poem
“Inward Oracle”
by J.P. Dancing Bear
 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? 
I was listening to Chris Hayes’s tv program, All In, and he said, just as a kind of throwaway remark, “There’s a Donald Trump in all of us.” 
I was in the process of writing a series of poems which became my book Of Oracles and Monsters which will be released next year by Glass Lyre Press. I let the idea roll around in my head for quite a while… the idea of some part of ourselves that is volatile and unpredictable and destructive. I thought about old volcanoes that are dormant most of the time, about people who live near those volcanoes, always at the mercy of the volcanoes’ moods. 
There’s also a tie into Oracles in that temples were often times located over fissures in the earth where toxic gases would escape, like what happens in volcano systems. The exposures to these gases are what is believed to be the source of Oracle visions. 
In my research I knew that oracles channeled or were allowed to see visions by the permission of a god. This got me thinking about Apollo, whom is known as a god of truth (his chariot of sunlight), but is also the god of lies (because of the shadows caused by the light). 
So now I had the basic elements of the poem and just had to make them work with each other. As I started working through the poem, I began to also feel like divine providence and the kings who claim it and how much unbridled ego you have to have to believe that. Then remember, all of this is the reflecting pool of one’s self, a self that might well be destroying its own interior or about to.  

I will also point out that this poem has a theme image which reoccurs in the book, and that is of the eye burning as it sees the future, which is an idea put forth by Anne Carson in her “Casandra Float Can” piece. The poem was originally written as part of my “Sonnets” series, which was what I had been working on at the time, but it was clear to me later that it was part of this new collection.

Where were you when you started to actually write the poem?  And please describe the place in great detail. I spend a lot of time outside my house (which is a sanctuary for fearful hounds) where I make sure the hounds have plenty of time to play and do their business, lay in the sun when the sun makes an appearance here in the Pacific Northwest. There’s usually geese and ducks landing or taking off in the lake I live next to. There’s an osprey that fishes the lake and hovers above watching the water. Often times there are eagles. Lots of crows. And variety of smaller birds like finches and sparrows. At night, you can hear the Pacific about a mile or so away, and there are coyotes howling, sometimes fairly close. As quiet as the place seems, it can be fairly loud at times, but I love it. 

So I have a lot of time to think poems through, let them roll around in my head, wait for the lines to percolate. Then when I have serval lines I begin the process of writing them down. So I was outside at night, when that Chris Hayes quote kept nagging at me, wanting me to do something.

What month and year did you start writing this poem? June 2017

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?) Actually my first draft is almost entirely in my head. Unlike a lot of my poems, I worked the images first and really played around with them in my mind. It might be because the original inspiration was something said. Because, now that I’m thinking about it, there’s another Chris Hayes quote, “Manifestly Unqualified”, which turned out to be the title of the poem. And my process for that one was very similar to this.

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’m going to stick with the imagery here.  I think I had played with the idea of adding Peter, from Peter and the Wolf, but I quickly abandoned it because it didn’t fit well with everything else.

What do you want readers of this poem to take from this poem? The poem wants the reader to pay attention to our politeness that will allow obvious lies to go unchecked and not hold the liar accountable, but it also shows the danger to and the damage done to society as the liar continues and the people shy further from truth or become jaded to blatant fabrication.

Which part of the poem was the most emotional of you to write and why? I think that part was edited out. Basically, it didn’t fit with the examination, it was the symptom that gets you in for the test and subsequent treatment.
Has this poem been published before?  And if so where? It came out in November of 2017 in vol. 10, issue 3 of the online magazine, diode.
Anything you would like to add? I think writers have a great responsibility to communicate ideas and observations to readers.  It’s an immense duty, particularly in times when dangers rise and threaten our human freedom and rights.

Inward Oracle
“There's a Donald Trump in all of us."—Chris Hayes

Apollo, Apollo my old ray of truth, only because
of the harnessed sun, not the shadow cast—the lie.
Everyone comes to me for something they want—
answers to the whens, the wherefores, the where arts,
when the heart is the future of a dormant volcano
at the foot of which you might live your entire life
in peace and content, still you only want to know
of the violence, the screaming, the catastrophe.
The old kings are good for provoking the gods, adding
to your fear—dwell upon eruptions and greed. The eye
boils in such futures, mad monarchs laugh, they clutch
their scepters in gloom and this your consumed, scorched
heart spent on a fork, in an unopened alleyway. Each ray
offers a silhouette, a child's lie, obvious only when focused on.

J. P. Dancing Bear is co-editor for Verse Daily and Dream Horse Press. He is the author of fourteen collections of poetry, most recently, Cephalopodic (Glass Lyre Press, 2015). 

His next book, Fish Singing Foxes will be released early in 2019 by Salmon Poetry, and his book, Of Oracles and Monsters, will be released by Glass Lyre Press also in 2019. His work has appeared or will shortly in American Literary Review, Crazyhorse, the DIAGRAM and elsewhere.
email: bearlaughing@yahoo.com
Twitter: @jpdancingbear


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”

048  December 14, 2018
Frank Paino’s “Laika”

049  December 15, 2018
Jennifer Martelli’s “Anniversary”

O50  December 19, 2018
Joseph Ross’s For Gilberto Ramos, 15, Who Died in the Texas Desert, June 2014”

051 December 23, 2018
“The Persistence of Music”
by Anatoly Molotkov

052  December 27, 2018
“Under Surveillance”
by Michael Farry

053  December 28, 2018
“Grand Finale”
by Renuka Raghavan

054  December 29, 2018
by Gene Barry

055 January 2, 2019
by Larissa Shmailo

056  January 7, 2019
“The Seamstress:
by Len Kuntz

057  January 10, 2019
"Natural History"
by Camille T Dungy

058  January 11, 2019
by Brian Burmeister

059  January 12, 2019
by Clint Margrave

060 January 14, 2019
by Pat Durmon

061 January 19, 2019
“Neptune’s Choir”
by Linda Imbler

062  January 22, 2019
“Views From the Driveway”
by Amy Barone

063  January 25, 2019
“The heron leaves her haunts in the marsh”
by Gail Wronsky

064  January 30, 2019
by Terry Lucas

065 February 02, 2019
“Summer 1970, The University of Virginia Opens to Women in the Fall”
by Alarie Tennille

066 February 05, 2019
“At School They Learn Nouns”
by Patrick Bizzaro

067  February 06, 2019
“I Must Not Breathe”
by Angela Jackson-Brown

068 February 11, 2019
“Lunch on City Island, Early June”
by Christine Potter

069 February 12, 2019
by Andrew McFadyen-Ketchum

070 February 14, 2019
“Daily Commute”
by Christopher P. Locke

071 February 18, 2019
“How Silent The Trees”
by Wyn Cooper

072 February 20, 2019
“A New Psalm of Montreal”
by Sheenagh Pugh

073 February 23, 2019
“Make Me A Butterfly”
by Amy Barbera

074 February 26, 2019
by Sandy Coomer

075 March 4, 2019
“Shape of a Violin”
by Kelly Powell

076 March 5, 2019
“Inward Oracle”
by J.P. Dancing Bear

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