Normally, I write about mystery novels on this blog, but I’m also a poet. I publish free verse and formal poetry collections, and I have an instruction book on writing formal poetry. I am beginning a long term poetry project with my wife, and I thought it would be interesting to chronicle it here, on this blog to give a sense of what it takes to complete this kind of work.
It’s probably going to take a year. If it works.
That’s the interesting thing about any large project. I have many pieces that I begin and that fail completely. That’s all right. I just like creating new things and when they fail, I am perfectly comfortable allowing them to do so. What that means though is that from the beginning this might be a series of pieces about loss. Or it could be a series about my next book to be published. I don’t know.
Okay, so what is the project?
I’m a poet and my wife is a visual artist. She usually works in prints. I’m going to work on a sonnet sequence about someone in the Sierra Nevada mountains, Sequoia, Kings Canyon, and Yosemite, which I am lucky enough to live near. They are going to create a narrative that she is going to illustrate with prints. If we can, we’re going to make the prints out of wood that we find in the mountains themselves although this last might not be possible.
What am I going to write the sequence about?
Well, I wanted to chronicle the entire project. I haven’t figured out the idea yet. The great thing about sonnets is that they pull the idea out of the poet. You can’t have a complete idea going into it or you end up with sing-songy schlock. The poems and ideas need to be pulled out of me by the form itself.
But I have two ideas.
The first is to write a sequence about historic figures. John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt came through this area together on horseback. That would be an interesting epic poem about the middle era of American history. There are lesser known historical figures as well like Tharp, who lived in a hollowed out log. Perhaps something about the Beat Poets who spent a good deal of time up in the mountains.
The other idea is to write about fictional characters. These would be naturalists who are having some kind of relationship problem. Not necessarily romantic. The poems then could focus on technical details of woodland science while the narrative would bind the whole project.
There needs to be conflict, whatever it is about. Otherwise, the collection will just be pretty pictures and empty poems.
You are all readers. Which of these projects would you be most interested in see in print and over the next months as a blog?