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***Arthur Turfa’s “Adventsmarkt in Wurzburg” is #232 in the 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. (Right Arthur Turfa in January of 2021. Copyright granted by Arthur Turfa)
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 honored to have been chosen as one of nine poets for the Tupelo Press’s 30/30 Project for December 2020. Each day we write a new poem.
Germany is my second home. I am fluent in the language, have
visited/lived there. I knew some of the poems would reflect some aspect of the nation, language, or culture. When I heard that the Advent/Christmas Markets were canceled there due to COVID-19, I knew I had the genesis of a poem. Thinking back to my Army deployment to Germany in 2005, there it was. The actual poem came quickly enough and took form easily. I didn’t have to do much revision. (Above Right: Arthur Turfa in Berlin in 2004. Copyright granted by Arthur Turfa)
Where were you when you started to actually write the poem? And please describe the place in great detail. I was in our den, which is a FROG. Most of my writing is done there. This time I was not listening to music ( I prefer symphonic/classical music, usually with strings, sometimes guitar). I was on the couch, with my feet on the coffee table. Our dog Magda, a chocolate lab was with me. (Left: Magda in the den where Arthur Turfa wrote "Adventsmarkt in Wurzburg" Copyright granted by Arthur Turfa)
What month and year did you start writing this poem? December 10, 2020. (Right Arthur Turfa with friend Kirsten Anke in December of 2020. Copyright granted by Arthur Turfa)
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?) There were really only two drafts. I started as a sonnet, but it did not gel.
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? The first verse that I rejected: “Fifteen years ago an ocean/separated me from those I loved best./Duties military and familial/ prevented a visit to my new home.” The revision actually was moving some things around in the latter stanzas.
I had “stills the sound before…” in the third line. When I finished, I decided to revise as I mentioned directly above. The flow as better that way.
What do you want readers of this poem to take from this poem? The concept of place is very important to me. There I was, in a place dear to me, thinking about my family, who actually had moved from Pennsylvania to South Carolina, which we all intended to do together, and had visited for Thanksgiving.
Which part of the poem was the most emotional of you to write and why? Those were sad days, but at least I was not in a combat zone. My intention was to create something good from something sad; hard to do in 2020. I thought about the joy I had visiting the Adventsmarkt, and felt bad for all those deprived of it this year.
Has this poem been published before? And if so where? As I said earlier, this was part of the Tupelo Press 30/30 Project. All poems are to be new.
Adventsmarkt in Würzburg / by Arthur Turfa
Fifteen Decembers ago
separated from those I love,
facing a hollow Advent/Christmas,
comfort sought I near the sea
of bright lights surrounding
the Marienkappele, aswirl
in color, aromas of baked goods
and sausages. By Glühwein warmed,
enraptured by familiar music sung and played,
on a cold Franconian night thinking of years
gone by and about my new home. Solace I
found , solace tendered to other now possible.
Only the lights of ambulances and police
cars illuminate the silent city in this somber
December. Memories console, hope inspires.
Arthur Turfa has had poetry published in many print and on-line publications, in the US and abroad, including The Petigru Review and Catfish Stew. He was in the Top Ten for the Pangolin Review 2019 Poetry Prize. His most recent poetry book is" Saluda Reflections, from Finishing Line Press." His most recent with award-winning artist Carol worthington-Levy is "All in the Family" from Blurb He is also editing a novel and some short stories. Semi-retired, he continues as an English adjunct for Midlands Technical College and as a supply pastor for the SC Synod (ELCA). He lives in Saluda County with his wife. (Above Right: Arthur Turfa in January of 2021. Copyright granted by Arthur Turfa)