It may look like it’s a quiet month for me, but the truth is very much the opposite. Since returning from Washington I’ve been working on several projects — some old, some new. Book research, spring gardening, and writing are all dominating my time.
As typically happens when I get this busy, my poetry has begun to flourish once more. In between form letters and spreadsheets and email inquiries I find myself frantically reaching for MS Word or paper and pen (or sometimes just a bit of wet mud and a board) with which to scratch down my thoughts.
In the course of conducting some research these past two weeks, I came across Copper Canyon Press’ tips for writers on getting published. Being one of the many eager thousands, I decided to take a few minutes to look at their thoughts.
Included is a segment with advice for poets, including four short essays from various writers. I found useful tidbits in each which offered validation, encouragement, and even affirmation of the process of growing as a poet. Being somewhat recluse in nature, I think it’s easy for me to forget sometimes that other poets experience the same challenges, and find the same solutions.
Regardless of your artistic medium, there is still something useful to extract from each of the essays. Among my favorites are a couple points from Marvin Bell’s Thirty-two Statements About Writing Poetry:
25. Writing poetry is its own reward and needs no certification. Poetry, like water, seeks its own level.
26. A finished poem is also the draft of a later poem.
For me, writing poetry is first and foremost about the process itself – not about publication, recognition, or tradition. I think that I have maintained my love and interest in poetry by letting publication remain an afterthought.
Number 26 on Bell’s list is what reminded me of the whole “poetic evolution” which lately as been at the forefront of my thoughts. I look back on my work from years past and reflect on how my work has grown, changed, and (hopefully) improved. Part of that process is a somewhat invisible reflection of Number 26: every piece I write, regardless of whether I even remember it, adds to the foundation of future works. We’ll talk about this more in Part 2 of the Artistic Voice series.
How do you regard your own artistic evolution (or revolution)? Can you see how your work builds on itself? Do you like to tear your progress down and start in a fresh direction? Do you find yourself working towards a particular goal in your craft, or simply wandering where the music takes you?