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?) Maybe 2 max, and the second wouldn’t have been much different than the first.
Maybe a word or two. I type the poems, so there’s nothing available to show the workings.
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? Nope. I probably added the epigraph, for clarification.
What do you want readers of this poem to take from this poem? Two things. Firstly, that our memories play tricks on us and that two people may remember the same event very differently, particularly when it’s a traumatic event.
This was true of my mother’s death also. When my father and I compared notes after, it was disconcerting how many details we disagreed upon. Secondly, that once in a lifetime events provoke unique and sometimes unreplicable responses.
Has this poem been published before? And if so where? Yes! It’s been well-received. It was a finalist for the Howard Nemerov sonnet contest.
It was published in one of the last issues of Measure http://www.measurepress.com/measure/
Then my book came out in April, and this was the poem from it that was picked up by Verse Daily.
The Legend is, of course, that the band went down
playing "Nearer My God to Thee."
— Walter Lord, A Night to Remember
Now that the boats have been lowered to the sea,
now that the lights have failed, and a deeper chill
sets in among those remaining, the melody
starts to sound frivolous in a night so still,
so full of portent. Song sheets lit by stars,
Hartley flips through, finds nothing with the power
to be the last song, the one listed in memoirs
by the exclusive survivors of this hour.
And so he plays—by instinct or by ear—
something that sounds a little like a hymn
that he doesn't quite recall. The bandsmen hear
and by some miracle they all join in,
a tune never played before or heard again—
that unique night's unnamable refrain.
She gained her MFA from Bennington College. Recipient of Fellowships from the MacDowell Artists' Colony and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and winner of the 2012 Rattle Poetry Prize Readers' Choice Award, she currently teaches at West Windsor Art Center and Rowan College at Burlington County.
collection, Under Dark Waters: Surviving the Titanic, is out now from Able Muse Press, and her sonnet collection, Sisters & Courtesans, is available from White Violet Press.
by Anna Evans