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 poem came from a practice I had going throughout most of 2017 of sitting down to write while I had my tea every morning. I didn’t have any particular idea in mind when I started, but I remember it had been raining a lot and felt a bit like the apocalypse; climate change comes in floods and fires, heat and bitter cold. I’d recently come across, again, the information that if there were to be an earthquake in my region (I live in Memphis; the New Madrid Fault is not far), there would be widespread and complete destruction. The Trump administration had been in office for several months, and I struggle with depression anyway; the outlook seemed bleak.
What month and year did you start writing this poem? I’m going to guess November, 2017. Or perhaps October.
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 usually write first drafts right on my laptop, so there are generally no pen markings until I get to the manuscript stage.
If I make large changes, like cutting a stanza or changing the ending, I copy the poem and put it lower down in my document, so if I decide to go back to the original, I have it. I looked for this “draft” on my computer and couldn’t find it, so I suspect I didn’t make any major changes from beginning to end.
I do remember being pretty happy with the ending, which is often the big place I revise. My process often then is to leave the poem alone until I start putting together my manuscript, at which point I do more cutting if I can find anything to cut, and change titles so they’re not too redundant in the book. So alas, no earlier versions of the poem exist, though that’s not unusual for me.
What do you want readers of this poem to take from this poem? Hope, I guess. That though things in their personal as well as public lives will inevitably fall apart—something that often feels like apocalypse, or at least catastrophe—there will be things worth living for: birds, for one. Also pets (Right: Katherine's cat), who tend to get the raw end of the deal in both literary and apocalyptic writing.
Has this poem been published before? And if so where? Yes. I was lucky enough to have it appear in Kettle Blue Review (https://www.kettle
contributors-issue51) in the spring of 2018. It’s also in my forthcoming book, Love Songs from the End of the World, which is available now for pre-order from Main Street Rag Publishing (https://mainstreet