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March 17, 2009


What a lovely account! And I like the poem very much.

Beth: what a superb post, taking us through your walk. I feel as though we've just had a long cup of tea together, which is a lovely idea, and I like your poem very much. And the the health-food-store-girl who didn't quite make it in -- It's like picking flowers. (Or chocolate.) This one, yes; this one -- maybe tomorrow.

A walk into the mind of a writer... lovely, Beth!

Beth, I love your investigation into the process that went into this poem, how seeing flowed into thinking, into word-making, into editing and, finally, into blogging. It's your *seeing* that triggers it all, a very painterly, intuitive seeing and then choosing the words to express and condense that vision. Wonderful.

Dave recently stated his opinion that "a poem that needs explaining isn't a good poem."
Geez, if even you misunderstood my meaning, I guess I'll take it as a sign to resume my general avoidance of talking about poetry! I like many "difficult" poems. I simply feel that if a poem can't function without a critical apparatus, it may be an interesting intellectual exercise, but it's not really a poem. If there's a better (which will not necessarily be a clearer) way of saying what the poem says, then that needs to be in the poem.

The final change I think is crucial to the effectiveness of the poem, and illustrates I think how the pressure of online self-publication can spur us to better writing. A lovely account overall. Thanks for sharing.

It's delightful to read about you, your day, your process, and how a lovely piece of writing, a poem, came to be.

I love the little peek into your mind's workings.

Thank you for this glimpse inside your head.

Wonderful. I wonder if William Carlos Williams did this with his red wheelbarrow? It's the pruning that makes the magic. If you're aware of every last character, you keep only the best. It's like taking 100 pictures and keeping only 10.

I remember reading once that many of WCW's poems were short because he jotted them on prescription pads during the day as he sat in his office. The size of the paper limited the length of his poems. I guess the 140-character limit works in a similar way: you pare things down to their essentials.

My favorite lit crit is by the writer of the examined work. This delightful exercise reminds me of Poem, Revised, a very good recent collection of fifty-four essays by poets, each of whom discusses the evolution of one of his or her poems.

Anchovy pizza, mozarella cheese on top, cyberspace tease-frustration!


This wonderful post makes me want to write poetry again. You have reminded me of how much pleasure can be derived from playing with words, adding, subtracting, reordering them until they please. I think there are more poems in that account: the lace curtained apartments and nascent tulips, the French girl and the paper tape, the bath and pizza. What riches.

Thanks for this Cassandra. The essay itself is a little gem of observation in itself, and the glimpse of your poetic process is fascinating.

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Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.