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Showing posts from April, 2014

The Tour

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Jan Bickerton, courtesy Red Edge Images It may be nearly the end of April, but it's not too late to make a stop on the Blog Tour. This part of the tour comes via Steve McOrmond , who talks about poetry and process on his excellent blog here . Thanks, Steve, for inviting me on board. Take the tour by clicking on the links you find in this and the other Blog Tour posts. And now, I answer the questions: What am I working on? Clearing space and time to write, as usual. Circling. A long thing, some short things. Maybe they're the same thing. Maybe they're not really things. Attending to morning light and a construction crane. How does my work differ from other work in its genre? I'm often surprised by what people say they recognize as SusanGillisness in my poems. I sometimes wish I had a clearer sense of that myself. But if I did, I'd probably break my head trying to get free of it. I like getting inside moments, inside shifts in time or event or light

In Conversation with Gjertrud Schnackenberg: Part Two, The Visible Song

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Awhile ago I asked Gjertrud Schnackenberg how poems come to her. Our conversation took several engaging turns. Here, in part two of a continuing series, she talks about making the music visible. SUSAN GILLIS: There is a readily-heard quality in your work of the incantatory that often seems to propel it forward. You have mentioned that your process involves writing reams that are eventually discarded—this suggests to me that incantation itself, engaging in it, is part of what calls the poem into being. Is it fair or accurate to say a poem begins, for you, as a gathering of sound? GJERTRUD SCHNACKENBERG: Several kinds of neuro-magic -- figurative blindsight, rapt listening, attunement, and physical remove -- are preconditions of poetry, for reading and hearing it as well as for writing it. Blindsight takes precedence over listening as a precondition for poetry, because visual imagery is the foundation of metaphor (I should say I mean figurative blindsight rather than

Bright Things

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Bits of forsythia light up my rooms this week: raggedy sticks in a raku jar, a single branch in a hollowed-out stone. They feel necessary this long winter, reminders that under the snow things are shifting. Image by jlburgess, courtesy stockxchg Often I forget about this kind of near-invisible shifting, which in some ways is okay, given that much of the shifting under snow in the city's alleys and gutters is dogshit and garbage. But then, something whispers to me from a plastic pail of water behind the stack of discounted cookies in the grocery store, or trips me up in front of the recycling bin, or lures me away from the direct line to my car after work, toward its unmistakeable flush, and I feel a sympathetic flutter.  If I were a dog I'd wag my tail. I confess, it's not always like that. There are whispers I say No! to, tugs-toward I shrug away. Don't ask why: I don't know! Possibly it's laziness. What I do know is this: ignore something that