As part of the writing process blog tour, I’m happy to host this guest post from Sandra Marchetti. Here’s a little bit about her: Sandra’s debut full-length collection of poetry, Confluence, is forthcoming from Gold Wake Press as part of their 2015 Print Series. She was named the winner of the Midwest Writing Center’s 2011 Mississippi Valley Chapbook Contest for her volume The Canopy. She was also a finalist in Gulf Coast’s 2011 Poetry Prize and Phoebe’s 2009 Greg Grummer Poetry Contest. Sandy has recently published poems in The Journal, Nashville Review, Phoebe, Subtropics, Gargoyle, Sugar House Review, Thrush Poetry Journal, and Stone Highway Review. Please welcome Sandy Marchetti:
Ruth Foley, the fabulous Managing Editor of Cider Press Review and author of Dear Turquoise from dancing girl press, was kind enough to ask me to participate in The Writing Process Blog Tour here on her Five Things blog. I’m really excited to share my responses to these questions on my writing process, product, and innovations with you. Thanks, Ruth! Here we go:
What am I working on?
Well, my first full-length collection, Confluence, will arrive in December as a part of Gold Wake Press’ 2014 Print Series and a fine press illustrated chapbook entitled, A Detail in the Landscape, containing micro-essays and poems, will arrive this summer. You might say that now I’m “between projects.” I’m a slow writer (I write a few times a year in bursts that last a couple of months) and fastidious reviser, so it’s difficult for me to get started on new work. With that said, I feel I have squeezed all the juice I can out of the poems I have produced—every single poem except five from my forthcoming full-length collection have found publication, some twice—and it’s time for me to begin in earnest my second book. However, my headspace is currently pretty clouded with work related to poetry rather than ideas for new poems.
With that said, I’m hoping to dedicate a huge chunk of my free time this summer to the new work, which I envision as a poetic and personal history of the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. This spring and summer I will be attending Cub games, as I always do, and travelling to some other historic ballparks (minor and major league) in the Midwest. Although I have already drafted a few pieces for this project, I’d like to write a sonnet crown detailing Greg Maddux’s experience listening to recordings of his games at Wrigley Field; poems exploring the geometry and other mathematical patterns of the game; and narratives describing my father as a boy, tuning into WGN radio broadcasts of games, specifically Sandy Koufax’s 1965 no-hitter against the Cubs. I hope to have time and space to read and experiment with prose pieces on related topics as well.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
As Ruth so aptly mentioned in her post last week regarding her own poems, I feel that my poems are also quite “tightly wound” sonically. In fact, the sound of a poem often comes to me before subject matter and sometimes even before an image. I hear and feel the undulations in my poems and follow my music through its own spiraling sequence. I also use sound-mapping techniques to maximize that sequence’s structure throughout a piece. Poets have to make music from words only—we don’t get notes and lyrics as musicians do—and it has always been challenging and very satisfying for me to twist a poem into an artifact that brings both sonic pleasure and thought to the fore. My work is probably unfashionably rhymed for its contemporary poetic moment—sometimes I’m not sure if I’m writing for our century. However, I know I’m a contemporary poet because of the amount of angles/slant rhyme/open ended-ness I attempt to get away with in my work. I often receive comments on the images or colors in my poems, comparing them to Impressionism in visual art. I write short pieces (hardly ever over two pages), and my poems (thus far) have often explored the natural world. I’ve always thought of myself as an odd mix between a traditionalist (I write in forms and always in some meter) and a “fractured image” poet (taking many of my cues from New York school poetics and beyond). With that said, the poets whose feet I’d kiss include: Elizabeth Bishop, John Ashbery, Li-Young Lee, Sylvia Plath, Octavio Paz, and Carl Phillips. Contemporary presses and journals I love include: Sundress Publications, Thrush Poetry Journal, The Southern Review, Yes Yes Books, Flyway, and so many others. I also like to read poems that are more narrative than my own—I’m not sure why. Everyone likes to be told a story, I think.
Why do I write what I do?
To begin with, I’m probably a writer (rather than an artist, or a historian, or something else I was interested in as a kid) because writing always seemed like a challenge to me. I knew I had some talent for it, but I was never “the best” writer in my grade at school. The wrangling of words is a maddeningly perfectionistic way to spend ones’ days (or ones’ weekends) and I am maddeningly perfectionistic. So, identifying as a writer suits my natural personality to a tee. (Rest assured; the younger me was perfectionistic about nearly everything in life and now I only allow myself to be that way in my writing!). Why do I write poetry? I love how spare it is. Poets do it with less, and more beautifully; again, it’s a challenge. Also, poems allow for music, as mentioned above and let’s be frank: I’m horrible at creating believable characters. Ultimately, I want to blow a reader’s hair back the way I feel my hair blown back when I read a great poem. I suppose want to make my own spine tingle, too. We all know poets are just adrenaline junkies (!).
How does my writing process work?
I work in cycles and take great comfort in routines. When I know I will have a morning to myself to “write,” I turn off tech and mindfully make a pot of coffee, smell the beans, look out the window, and go to my desk. Sometimes I’ll just read a collection I've read 100 times, revise a piece, send submissions or actually draft a new poem or two. I’m obsessive about cleaning my workspace (aka the entire house) before any of this begins. Then I sit in silence doing that thing I love, completely oblivious. It’s rejuvenating and rarely feels like work at all once I start.
I know that I’m lucky to have a spouse that a.) is the best reader I’ve ever had for my poems, and b.) works nights and weekends when I don’t. This way I have the time to write and also someone to help me revise. My husband Scott, a very creative chef and restaurateur but not a writer, sees the interworkings of my poems with a deft, generous, and ultra-perceptive eye. His suggestions always make my poems better beings. Also, as I mentioned before, I am an obsessive reviser, so most poems go through 80-100 drafts (ranging from full-scale revisions to tiny edits) over multiple years before I consider them anywhere near “done.” Since I don’t write as often as I’d like, I hardly ever throw anything out; all scraps eventually become poems because they are so precious and rarely received. I also mentally recycle ideas quite a bit.
Thanks so much for reading this self-interview. It’s really refreshing to be completely honest about process and how one makes a poem. If you want to know more, you can find me at: https://www.facebook.com/sandywritingservices
This great exercise for all—I recommend it! In fact, watch for posts by these three talented poets next week as The Writing Process Blog Tour continues:
Sara Henning’s poetry, fiction, interviews and book reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in such journals as Bombay Gin, Willow Springs, and Crab Orchard Review. Currently a doctoral student in English and Creative Writing at the University of South Dakota, she serves as Managing Editor for The South Dakota Review.
Allie Marini Batts is an MFA candidate at Antioch University of Los Angeles, meaning she can explain deconstructionism, but cannot perform simple math. Her work has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize. ELJ Publications published her chapbook, You Might Curse Before You Bless, in 2013.
Lisa Marie Basile is the founding editor of Luna Luna, a mischievous little women’s arts & culture site. She also edits the micropress Patasola Press and is co-editor for Diorama Journal. Her work can be seen in Best American Poetry, Poets & Artists Magazine, PANK Magazine, The Nervous Breakdown, La Fovea and others. She is the author of Andalucia (The Poetry Society of New York) and Triste (Dancing Girl Press). Her newest chapbook, war/lock, is forthcoming from Hyacinth Girl Press in 2014. Noctuary Press, run from University of Buffalo, will publish her full-length poetry collection, APOCRYPHAL in June 2014.