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.
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***This is #149 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.
#149 Backstory of the
by Bruce Kaufman
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? How poetry ‘arrives’ at me has been different in the last 25
years than it was in the first.
The seed for that change may have come from
reading Zen in the Art ofWriting by Ray Bradbury in the early
90’s. The poems simply, now, arrive – and nearly always complete in themselves.
So, there is no thought process, really, as I purposely divorce myself from my
brain in the creation process. My process is similar to stream of consciousness
Most of my writing is done
outside my apartment. Usually cafés, but often as well in parks or near a lake
or a river. The walks there allow me time to simply passively observe – and to
open up and allow. This particular poem came to me as I was sitting in a café
after one of those walks.
Where were you when you started to actually write the poem?
And please describe the place in great detail. It was
Spring, mid-morning, at then one of my favourite cafés I’d go to write, The
Common Market. It sat (and still sits) near the lake, and the energy in the
space at that time was always allowed me to ‘shut off my mind’ (as Bradbury
suggested) and simply write. And the café itself was a small indie café,
usually fairly quiet.
I was seated at the first of three small round tables sitting in
a row – about 3 feet from each other in the middle of the café. I was purposely
sitting to watch the lake out the window, and sitting closest to it. The café
was busy that morning, but not noisy when I came in. Then two men sat down at
the table beside mine, each with their newspapers. After a few minutes, they
began talking about what they were reading, each talking over the other, and
both quite loudly.
I was simply looking for a
quiet place to write that morning, but still determined I pulled out my cd-Walkman
and began to listen as it drowned out their chatter. As I always do, I simply
waited for the words to arrive, and didn’t know when I put the pen to the page
what it would be. But within seconds this poem began to emerge, and possibly
ten minutes later it was complete, as if it wrote itself.
What month and year did you start writing this poem? It
was written in May, 2015, included in the manuscript I’d sent out initially in
early 2017, and then finally published in the collection in the Spring of 2019.
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?) Much of my poetry that means
something deeply to me arrives almost fully intact, complete. This was one. I
believe the only revision I made to this was in the second full stanza. I’d
originally used the word ‘seemingly’ between the words ‘never’ and ‘becoming’.
I pulled the word a couple of days after the poem was written because I felt
the stanza needed to be bolder and more definitive
What do you want readers of this poem to take from this
poem? I think this poem is essentially self-explanatory. I feel readers
will ‘get it’, but each in their own language.Rightly or wrongly, I’m not a poet who believes there is only one
interpretation of a poem. In fact, I encourage that concept with my own poetry.
And is also why I almost never preface a poem at a reading.
Which part of the poem was the most emotional of you to
write and why? I’m not sure how to answer this. The full of
the poem was ‘in the moment’ and coming to me from the exact experience I was
placed in. The emotional part is how the words arrived, I guess. And how the
poem seemed to tie itself together and make a statement in that final stanza.
Has this poem been published before? And if so where?
The poem has been shared at readings in the past, and now during
the launch tour of the book, and recorded, but never published before. Again,
the poem is currently published in an
evening absence still waiting formoon(The John B. Lee
Signature Series, Hidden Brook Press, 2019).
Anything you would like to add? Simply the
process I use as I write. Always at least a short walk before. Find a conducive
space with what feels like clean energy. Clear my mind of all thought and
simply passively observe both as I walk there and as I sit to write. My poems
are never computer or typewriter generated – instead, always, that first draft
and even the first edits must be pen to the page in my journal. The poem then
is edited again as it is typed into the computer as a Word doc. All further edits
are then mostly done on screen. Perhaps the greatest epiphany I’ve had since I
adopted this more intuitive writing process, is that I no longer feel like I
create my poems, but instead I’m simply the transcriber, the vessel, the
conduit, the pen.
to insulate myself
from the noise
of the day
from the echoing shouts
to distance myself
the pompousness of logic
the world never becoming
deaf to that noise
men sit beside me
their too loud
long too proud
a new morning
away from this
the still colour and fullness
what it is
has lost them
are lost to it
their papers in hand
will read about
a short remnant of a single
small thread of the full
blanket of this day
they will look up
will talk about it
new day outside
weaving its new threads
into a curtain
lives in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, and is a local poet, freelance editor, and
organizer of literary events. His written work has appeared in several
anthologies and journals, broadsides, two chapbooks, and four collections of
poetry, his latest - an evening absence still waiting for moon,
2019.He has edited 7 anthologies.
Beyond writing and editing, he organizes occasional book launch or reading
events, facilitates intuitive writing workshops, founded, organizes and hosts:
the monthly and the journey continues open mic reading series, the
annual multiday Poets @ Artfest poetry festival, and an annual Kingston
event tied to other 100 Thousand Poets for Change global events. He also
produces and hosts his weekly spoken word radio show, finding a voice,
on CFRC 101.9fm, Kingston, ON.