Monday, July 9, 2007

Red, red wine

I spent the weekend in the Sonoma and Napa valleys California, tagging along with my husband to wineries. We went on tours and asked questions, and I learned more about the process of making wine—especially red wine: the pump-over, and the racking, and the fining (no one ever wants to tell you much about that), the fermentation processes and yeast and barrels and temperature and most definitely aging.

Any wine maker has his or her own little tricks and variations, but the basic idea is the same: certain processes need to be done at certain times so that the grapes you crush become the wine that you want to enjoy.

I've heard people talk about putting your poems in a drawer for—oh, say, two years. I've never been good at that. When I think a poem is ready, after x number of revisions and comments from a poet friend or my poetry group, I'm ready to try it out on the real world.

What if I put it in a barrel for 18 months or a couple of years? What if I revisited it at periodic intervals and tried different things—give the poem, or myself, time to mature?

What's the rush? (That opens its own barrel of questions.)

Maybe it's time I become more patient, build the barrel time into my work.

What about you? Do you hold onto your poems, even after many revisions, and give them time to rest—or give yourself time to gain some new perspectives that you can bring to them?


aka Leonardo Likes Gulls said...

What about you? Do you hold onto your poems, even after many revisions, and give them time to rest—or give yourself time to gain some new perspectives that you can bring to them?

***Many times I do this in regards to my manuscript. If I have a poem I *think* will fit, I leave it out for awhile to make sure it isn't the trendy shirt I purchased quickly on sale and something that I wear out of the house more than one season. Poetry clothes, I guess. I guess I don't put my poems in a drawer, but in a closet. ;-)

However, there are poems I've written and loved and sent them out. I regret this occasionally and occasionally it pays off.

Anonymous said...

Hi Joannie,
It was wonderful reading with you and several other Rose Alley poets last night at Hugo House. I especially like your opening poem “The Storm” and “On the Ground.” I’m eating a purple cabbage and spinach salad with a dash of Salad Elegance as I ponder the questions you’ve asked in this entry. While chewing...I’ll bridge to your “Visual, visceral” entry on July 1. Speed writing Morning Pages (abt three of them) -- ah la Julia Cameron -- has helped me enjoy the rush of writing while also providing perspective on my work because of the her directive to resist the urge/habit to start revising, editing, etc., too soon. Cameron recommends not looking at your MP entries for several months! –- not always easy for me to do. But back to one of your visceral questions: “How do you go for, or bring forth, the gut?” Sometimes I do a quick drawing to inspire a spontaneous sprint of writing. Here's a poem I wrote the other day:

Ten-Second Drawing with Similar Feathers, Petals, or Sprinklers

Lines glide
and swoop,
arch and loop,
to wing
no words,
but show a whoop
of blooming flowers —
or are they showers?

Ignore that question. Remove the mark.
The reason for this — is simply to spark!

Stay cool...

Geoff Pope, wishing he were heading to a pool instead of back to grading papers!

Joannie said...

AKA: I like the idea of a closet, because it makes me think that you could pull it out occasionally, try it on, see whether it goes well with a new scarf I've found--and that's more the idea that I was trying to explore, the idea that the incubating time is more active rather than sealed and never looked at.

GP: Thanks for your comments, too. I haven't had so much success with Ms. Cameron and the morning pages (after a few months, I was just writing blah, blah, blah to get through them quickly), but I appreciate the concept of waiting to more fully develop your free write. My next question: What about time between subsequent drafts?

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Anonymous said...

Related to trying your poems “out on the real world,” after I show mine to a few fellow poets and my accountant spouse, I also like to give them a spoken pass to my tabbies, a lit. class, my painter-sister, a non-literary neighbor –- sometimes even a random stranger; that humbles and helps curb my eagerness of wanting to submit work for publication too soon. But I really like your “build the barrel time into my work” (great phrase) thoughts and questions, which got me thinking about renaming some of my poem file folders from simply Spring 2007 Poems, Summer 2007 Poems, etc. (with month subfolders) to titles like Marinating Until Late Summer Poems, Don’t Look at Me Until 2008 Poems, Sadly Rejected Poems, Madly Rejected Poems, Gladly Rejected Poems –- ok, that’s enough.


Anonymous said...

P.S. I meant to include this in my post above...

Reading Poetry on the Balcony

I like to tape my drafts
to the metal railing,
reading them as they flutter
or drape flat. My better pages
weigh more with April rain,
fade well in July sun, stiffen
from November frost, finally feel
worth sharing by February fires.

Geoff Pope, from Winter 2006

Joannie said...

Lovely! Thank you for that.