Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Emotional arc

Yesterday I rode my bike across the I-90 bridge to work and back. With a minor detour (missed a turn), it was a 34-mile round trip. That was a physical arc—and this morning I'm really on the downhill side.

Today I'm going to do a reduced bike commute and ride most of the way on the bus, which means I get to read. Novel or poems or Poets & Writers? Although I love the poems, I lean toward the novel—and why is that? Again I ask whether I should try writing fiction again?

Instead, I'm working on these Camargue poems, which are really like little interlinked character studies. It's another series in which I'm not sure the poems, and their characters, will be able to stand alone. But I realize that it's my own way of writing stories.

I fail at writing fiction because I'm missing the plot genes. I'm convinced: It's a DNA issue. But I'm thinking that maybe in these little poetry links I can replace a plot with an emotional arc—a concept that Lana Hechtman Ayers recently introduced me to. She's good at seeing the emotional arcs. I'm not, so that's another thing to work on.

When you're pulling together a collection of poems, or when you're working on a series of poems, do you look for an emotional arc?

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