The Writing Process Blog Tour

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I was invited to take part in The Writing Process Blog Tour by Jennifer Kakutani an artist/crafter/photographer/writer who I first met at the Squam Art Workshops last June. She was wearing a beautiful delicate yellow sweater of her own making and I was likely wearing a sweater from Old Navy, marking me as a novice knitter at best. Jennifer’s blog bio. states that she mothers “while knitting, sewing, painting, photographing, gardening, riding around Seattle with my kids on my cargo bike and anything else outside. I usually squeeze in some gluten-free cooking and writing articles for ParentMap.” She’s a graduate of The Corcoran School of Art and Design, Washington D.C. and is currently working on a memoir as well as documenting her life in photographs.

The Writing Process Blog Tour aims to shed a little light on the writing process and other aspects of the writing life. And heck, writers don’t often get asked questions about their creative life, so it’s a chance to mull over and share our creative idiosyncrasies. I’m supposed to be passing this off to another writer, chain letter style, but all my writer friends seem to be gearing up for their fall teaching load or off on vacation. If any writers out there would like to take part just send me a note and I’ll get you on board. Here goes!

What are you working on? I’ve been pretty occupied getting my first poetry collection Church of Needles into print, as well as The Diary of Esther Small; 1886 which I edited and transcribed. My second poetry collection Split the Crow is due out later in the fall; I just finalized the file and wrapped things up on my end with the manuscript. I’ve also been working on some poems toward a chapbook manuscript tentatively titled If It Weren’t for the Girls with Pocket Knives. The poems are women/girl-centric, some about my own childhood and teen years as a ‘latchkey kid’ raised by a single mother, mothering a younger sister and dealing with violence toward women. The poem Sisters; 1980s was just chosen as a runner up in a poetry contest at Fugue and will be published in October. The themes I’ve been mulling over are extinction, voicelessness, life from a woman’s angle and the predator/prey relationship. 

How does your work differ from others of its genre? My poetry primarily differs from work by other poets in that I tend to create a hybrid of narrative and lyric poetry, which I’ve been told by some poetry teachers is a problem, but I’ve learned to embrace. I’m also inspired by history and historic voices in particular. I’m kind of obsessed with the persona poem and can’t help wanting to take on the voices of other women and oppressed populations.

Why do you write what you do? The poetry community often bemoans the lack of political poetry and poetry of witness by contemporary poets. Where are the poems about Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan? Where are the poems about mass child abduction, sex slavery, violence toward black men? I have a hard time writing about contemporary issues and getting into the heads of contemporary individuals, it’s not that I don’t want to, but I feel a definite affinity for historic voices and historic issues. Through writing about spousal abuse in 1886, discrimination based on race and gender, and the genocidal origins of our country, I feel I’m creating my own poetry of witness in a way that works for me and also resonates with contemporary oppression. 

How does your writing process work? I write in the mornings on my laptop, usually in a file titled: “poems begun..” with a date. I tend to create my own poetry prompts by jotting down images, lines, ideas in a notebook and revisiting them, as well as highlighting lines in books I’m reading, usually non fiction. I’m currently reading a book on the extinction of the passenger pigeon and was struck by the fact that a young boy killed the last wild passenger pigeon (around 1900) and that his mother stuffed it and used buttons for its eyes. The bird has been referred to as ‘Buttons’ ever since. I also recently found a website dedicated to helping female vocalists going through menopause work with the changes their voices undergo. Both of those ideas/images are loaded with symbolism for me. I know I can work with them. I usually write the first draft of a poem in about an hour and will do some initial revision as a I write. I’ll revisit the poem a few days later and head for the weak spots, which I’m usually aware of initially. 

Ok, your turn! If you’re a writer: poetry, fiction, non fiction, send me a link to your blog and a bio. and I’ll paste it right here and pass the torch to you.

3 thoughts on “The Writing Process Blog Tour

  1. Gardening first led me to you site Sarah and after reading your last post, you’ve intrigued my thoughts even further. As well as you mentioning your early “latchkey” days, your poetry as well as your interest in the ghosts of history, Miss Sylvia Plath and a woman’s lot, it’s a real soup of familiarity. Although born in the centre of London not far from the calls of Eliza Doolittle, I find the “Wisconsin Death Trip” America alluring. I was also raised by a single mother. With a younger, wild, dyslexic brother to care for, that key swung heavy round the neck. Miss Plath is a facsimile of my own mothers experience of Ted like husband and the attempt to gas us all by means of a similar London oven. Strange, sad, funny beautiful, earthy, nostalgic. Lots of memory igniters. Thank you.

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