Friday, January 18, 2008

Poetry Friday: Crossing Unmarked Snow

After reading about my messy novel notebooks, Mary Lee kindly sent me yesterday's featured poem at The Writer's Almanac. It's by William Stafford, from the book pictured above.

Here's the beginning:

What's In My Journal

Odd things, like a button drawer. Mean
Things, fishhooks, barbs in your hand.
But marbles too. A genius for being agreeable.

(Read the rest here. Scroll down to Thursday's entry)

I also found this in my journal:

"I always thought writing was arraying words in beautiful patterns, but now I think it's more like walking blindfolded, listening with your whole heart, and then looking backward to see if you made any tracks worth keeping."

What about you? Did you make any tracks worth keeping this week?

Poetry Friday is hosted today at Farm School.


  1. What a splendid poem! Love "clues that lead nowhere," "pages you know exist but can't find them."

    Your journal entry was SO insightful: "tracks worth keeping." We never know until we look back, after the arduous journey.

    As I write this, two deer are making tracks through our newly fallen snow.

  2. I'm always awake listening to NPR in the early hours, so I love starting the day with the Writer's Almanac. I remember hearing this and thinking that my journal looks a lot like the kitchen junk drawer, overstuffed and full of bits and pieces that may one day be useful.

  3. I did make some tracks this week, just not in the snow. I've never seen snow, you see, but I was in a recording studio on Tuesday, contributing to an album. It may go nowhere - it's a raw cut of songs from various new musicals, being shopped around to interested parties to get investors + actually stage the shows - but even if it does nothing more, the opportunity was exciting. Like I say, "we'll see," and "you'll never know" both apply here...

  4. Someone's terribly
    inevitable life story, maybe mine.

    The "fishhooks" and "barbs" thing stuck out to me. Those are definitely in my journal, and they become part of those tracks, too. This is a great poem.

  5. Little Willow, how exciting!

    And I *have* seen snow but not this year, and I'm jealous of Jama's "newly fallen snow."

    "Mornings that yawn above a new grave." I love it. I like that poem.

    I didn't make tracks this week, but I made progress on letting go of something. Letting go of an unkindness, but I was able to do it, because the unexpected and random kindnesses of others overshadowed it. Life is funny that way. And beautiful.

    Jules, 7-Imp

  6. p.s. I was behind on blog-reading this week -- like, I NEVER miss Sara's posts EVER EVER ('til now) -- and, obviously, I missed a lot of great stuff this week.

    Jules, 7-Imp (have a great weekend, Sara!)

  7. Thanks, Tanita and Jules. :)

    Jules, Tanita just commented at my blog (right beneath yours, in fact) and referenced my comment here, which in turn I had been "saving" for 7-Imp Seven Kicks!

  8. I love your bit about tracks worth keeping. And I made some early in the week, but have miles to go this week I think. . .

  9. Tracks in the snow and junk drawers.. yes.

  10. I loooooove Stafford. Thank you.

    Looking back at my tracks. Yep, I had been stuck stuck stuck on some poems and the last few mornings, when it's been too rainy to run, I have gotten the crappy first drafts DOWN ON PAPER. Which means I can carry on. Wahoooo

    Huge wahoos, too, for all of you with junk drawers and in recording studios and, especially, letting of of unkindnesses. That's a biggie...

  11. Wow. That quote from your journal is absolutely gorgeous. You are an amazing writer!

  12. The phrase about "voluptuous
    discards" certainly resonates with me.

    We've had quite a bit of unmarked snow here this year, and we've been keeping an eye on tracks through the winter -- the deer and the birds. Though my favorites are the almost invisible mouse prints that barely make an impression.

    This week, with the huge drifts, I was happy for the plow that came through and marked up the snow. But somehow an open road spoke of more possibilities!

  13. Sara, that's one beautiful bit of writing!

  14. I really liked your comments about when a piece of art or writing is 'finished'!
    As a writer married to a painter we both struggle with the same thing. I suppose nothing is actually ever finished - we just stop working on it........
    Greetings from sunny Marrakech.

  15. If you come to Portland in the fall, a field trip is in order. They have just put up these beautiful stone monoliths with Stafford's poems on them in a nearby park. His birthday was Jan. 17th.

  16. Everyone, thanks for taking the time to make tracks here. I wasn't able to respond yesterday, but today, I'm re-reading everything and marveling at how many lovely footprints are criss-crossing in the comments.

    LW, that's awesome! And Jules, hugs to you. MsMac: you are sooo ON for that idea!

  17. I only stopped by curious about another "Sara" out there, after I noticed your comment right before mine on House in Marrakesh's blog....

    Congratulations on your book. I see you enjoy fantasy. I always have too, and even tried to write a fantasy novel this November for the National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo). It was an eye opening experience for me, trying to write 50,000 words in one month. I have an even greater respect for authors who finish their works.

    Loving books and reading as I do, I find your blog quite interesting and may be stopping by again. I don't have a "want to read in 2008" list, but I do keep a list of books that I read, and have done for about 20 years.

    Oh, and I wanted to say, the quote in italics from your journal is wonderful.

    Best wishes to you!

    Another Sara

  18. Glad you had a chance to visit Marrakech on the blog.
    It is rather a wonderful place and quite different from NY where I lived for 25 years (LI and Manhattan).
    Good to get in touch with a writer's blog.......I will visit again and get your book when I'm in Manhattan briefly in Feb.
    Have you got snow now?

  19. Some worth keeping. Some not. A typical writing week. :)

  20. Welcome, Barrie...yes, that's how my writing weeks always go, too...I need just enough to keep going.

    And welcome, "other Sara"! :) WOOT for trying NaNoWriMo---it takes me a LOT longer than a month to produce 50,000 words. I need to muck about much longer than that to even begin to figure out where my book is heading. Please stop by again!

  21. Sara, I love the quote from your journal. You walk blindfolded in a lovely manner!

    From the poem--wow. Loved these parts especially:

    "Space for knickknacks, and for
    Alaska. Evidence to hang me, or to beatify. "

    "Chasms in character."

    "Mornings that yawn above a new grave. "

    My morning pages are so boring and prosaic...too many chasms and knickknacks. Not enough Alaska.

    I need to start exploring a new frontier a little!


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