Friday, June 3, 2011


The new issue of YB is up, and I have two poems in it!  One responds to Winslow Homer's painting At the Window, and is a poem that went through many revisions before coming to rest at YB #4: Windows.

The other, "Naked Dance," is based on true life experience that also connects to a previous poem, "Danse Russe," by William Carlos Williams, which is easy to see if you read the poems side by side, but also doesn't matter, if you read them separately.

I am tickled by stuff like this and always like to know about a poet's process, so I hope you don't mind if I sometimes tell you about mine. I really did wake up at 3:03 a.m. one morning in winter and sit up for a while in the front room, pulling the curtains closed so I wouldn't scare the paperboy, or paperwoman, as it might have been at that time. (Now I read the paper online, so I don't keep track of the delivery patterns in our neighborhood.)

I really did have mini lights on the windows all year round at that point. Well, in fact, they are still there, or a different couple of strands, but they are multi-colored now, and one strand doesn't work, so I seldom turn them on--mostly just to guide someone to my house at night or to the light up the wine rack, around which a third strand is tangled.

Those are details that have nothing to do with the poem. I hope the details that do matter are the ones in the poem that connect my personal experience to other people's personal, even intimate, experience of life and help illuminate it: vulnerability (naked or nearly naked), loneliness or a joyous solitude, concern for others (not waking, not frightening), noting the time (for the reason mentioned...and other reasons) and, for poets, the connection to "Danse Russe," and all the layers of that, including his reference to a Kathleen!

And the not Kathleen of my own poem's conclusion. No one's looking, no one cares, and that doesn't matter. Nothing to see here, carry on with your own lives!

Poets and/or people who read poems aloud as a way to understand them will appreciate, in "At the Window," how stanza two connects to stanza three in difficulty of saying these actual words. The physical difficulty of pronouncing "Upstairs waits that wasps' nest" leans into the emotional difficulty that comes next. And I hope many readers will understand what it might mean to "lean away" from expectations about housework, or women, or identity, or just the tasks of dusting windowsills with spiders and their wrapped prey on them, or removing wasps' nests, tasks shared by men and women. A woman might be expected to dust the windowsill; a man might be expected to remove the wasps' nest. But whatever expectation or "pose" might be captured here, it does not define us. We are more than one isolated view, yes? And who wants to sit in a "birdcage throne," eh?

Anyhoo, I hope you will read this whole issue, and think about this kind of thing in response to all the poems there, and look at and through all the window images gathered for you here by editors Rose Hunter, Sherry O'Keefe, and John Riley. They've done a wonderful job, and I've so enjoyed reading and gazing at these Windows!


Maureen said...

Oh, these are wonderful poems, Kathleen. Congratulations on their publication. Also, I do enjoy posts like this, which let us have a peek into the writer's mind.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Kathleen said...

Thanks, Maureen! You have a great weekend, too!

risaden said...

I love both poems, Kathleen, but I also stopped by to look at your 'categories of existence' which I would swear I've never noticed before, but truth-be-told, probably just appropriated unconsciously for my blog.

Isn't that how it works? And so, I thank you--for blogging every day, for writing poetry, for recognizing others so graciously (all of which are awesomely inspirational) and no doubt, for many other categories of existence.

Kathleen said...

Hey, Risa! Great that you stopped by! I love your new categories/tags and look forward to your blog posts. I'm sure other people do this, too, some on "pages" and some via separate blogs for separate purposes. I am 1) learning as I go...and 2) still technologically challenged!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Kathleen! :) I'm so glad you liked the issue.

I love this stuff about the poems! In fact for the first three issues of YB I had each poet write a little "about the poem" to accompany his/her contribution(s). I didn't do that for this issue because I had other things going on which were new for YB, but reading this makes me want to have it again in the next issue! Thanks for this post and for your poems. Lovely to have them in YB. :)

Kathleen said...

Rose, how nice of you to drop in! It's a wonderful issue, and I always love to learn "about the poem," as you say, whether about its origins, the revision process, or some particular fact or detail.