CHRIS RICE COOPER is a newspaper/fiction writer, poet, photographer, painter. CRC Blog is an INCLUSIVE & NON-PROFIT BLOG acknowledging ALL voices, ALL individuals, ALL political views, ALL philosophies, ALL religions including Islamism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Catholicism, Protestantism, Judaism, Agnosticism, Atheism. She has a B.S. in Criminal Justice & completed her workshops required for her Master’s in Creative Writing. She lives in St. Louis.
CRC website http://chrisricecooper.com/
Monday, November 25, 2019
#141 Backstory of the Poem "Condition Center" by Matthew Freeman
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***This is the #141 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.
#141 Backstory of the
by Matthew Freeman
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 I include is
typical of most of the poems I write. In this case, the first line came and I
kind of neglected it, but thought it might work in the future…but then a couple
of other lines came and I had to be on my way. After that I came up with the
last lines, which are very important if you’re writing a sonnet, and then sort
of filled everything in.
Where were you when you started to actually
write the poem?And please describe the
place in great detail. It’s
humorous to me that I wrote this one during a lecture. When I went back to
school I had a difficult and stressful time and would always be doing simple
math problems to figure out how much time I had left. And I kept thinking I’d
die before graduation! Well, I must have zoned out or something because
suddenly I’m sitting there with a sonnet.
What month and year did you start writing
this poem? This was probably
written sometime during 2014 (Below Left in 2014) or so.
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’m really lucky that I usually don’t have to
worry about drafts. I’ve just learned to be patient. If I only get a part of a
poem, I wait until more comes to me. Or, as in the case with this one, I just
plod through and work it out.
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? So, I probably tried a few lines in my head that
didn’t work. One neat thing about sonnets is coming up with interesting rhymes;
somebody said a poet is an athlete of the word, and I think this is about the
rhymes and meter and sometimes stretching a sentence out, and using enjambment
in a sonnet always works for the best.
What do you want readers of this poem to
take from this poem? It’s tough to know
what a reader should do. I guess we hope to entertain, first of all. If there’s
no fun, then it’s like, why are we doing this? The old humanist model that I
was raised on said that reading literature makes you a better person. I don’t
know. I do know that poetry operates in a agon that looks not just for
aesthetic priority but also just to be remembered at all.
Which part of the poem was the most
emotional of you to write and why? I think the most difficult part was the line about the date. It seems
necessary, but too bold!
Has this poem been published before?And if so where? I don’t think this was published anywhere; I don’t
think I even sent it out. I believe this was written right as I was putting my
I feel like nothing’s
foreign to me now.
I fall like Icarus and
I swim in all the faces,
all the skirts,
nothing is strange,
there’s nothing I don’t know.
Old Orpheus is knocking at
and wants to know how to
avoid the curse,
how to revive the drive
that stops and starts.
(align yourself and
watch your instinct grow)
Yet some pervasive
system lingers while
the suffering abates a
You mean to say a myth
betrays this lack?
You mean I’m not
confined to hospital?
I’m on a date, I’m like,
I’m on a date?
I walk the grad school
halls, I’m like, I’m back?
Freeman is the author of seven books of poems. He holds an MFA from UMSL and
runs a writers group at the Independence Center. He is also a songwriter. (Left: Matthew in May of 2019)