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The Alchemy of Poetry

25 Oct

The Alchemy of Poetry

Position the inert element
(any prompt will do)
into the beaker of an empty page
and bathe in the acid of a long stare.

Placing vessel over the flame of thought
heat until surface softens
and breaks into fault lines.

With any writing instrument
organize component parts
into webs and lists.
Use hurried scrawl to freewrite
dissections and reconstructions.

Expand and condense
reorganize and rearrange
the substance that has now
begun to take shape
until the final creation
aligns to your satisfaction.

At this point it will often
appear to be gold
(but don’t be fooled).
Leave it to cool.

Return in an hour
a day or a week to inspect.
Very occasionally
you will be satisfied
you have created
something genuine.

© 2011 by Violet Nesdoly

************
I wrote “The Alchemy of Poetry” during the April poem-a-day challenge in 2010,  prompts and encouragement supplied by Robert Brewer of the Poetic Asides blog.

Now it’s almost November, another challenge month when novelists around the world participate in NaNoWriMo (writing a 50,000-word novel in one month).

For poets, Poetic Asides has its own book challenge (called November Poem-A-Day Chapbook Challenge). I’m not ready to tackle another novel, but am seriously considering joining the Poem-A-Day challenge again this year.

I find this type of writing jag helps me get over the feeling of writing as a ‘precious’ activity. I know from experience that when I write a lot of poems, not every one that seems great just after I’ve written it, is. I have to give the writing and myself the cooling and distance of time to see what I’ve made. That’s what “The Alchemy of Poetry” is about.

************

By the way, the first draft of my novel Destiny’s Hands, was written during NaNoWriMo 2009. So if you have a book inside you, why don’t you dedicate this November to getting it out!

This post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted this week by the lovely Linda at Teacherdance

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19 Comments

Posted by on October 25, 2012 in Poetry Friday, Re-post, Writing

 

19 responses to “The Alchemy of Poetry

  1. mattforrest

    October 25, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    I think anyone of us who writes poetry can identify with this, Violet!

    Like

     
    • vnesdoly

      October 25, 2012 at 9:00 pm

      So you’ve experienced the same thing, Matt? Thanks so much for dropping by.

      Like

       
      • mattforrest

        October 26, 2012 at 4:32 am

        Indeed, especially the part “will often / appear to be gold / (but don’t be fooled)!”

        Like

         
  2. Myra GB

    October 26, 2012 at 3:30 am

    Hi Violet, your poem has resonated with me a great deal as I’ve been writing poems furiously over the past few weeks or so (when struck by inspiration, one simply writes) – this ‘alchemy’ you have created though is, no doubt, golden. 🙂

    Like

     
    • vnesdoly

      October 26, 2012 at 7:41 am

      Good for you ‘writing poems furiously.’ That’s admirable. The great thing is that though these poems, written in the madness of a creative frenzy, may not be fully formed or complete, you now have so much to work with as in revising or cannibalizing (using good lines for others poems). Go girl!

      Like

       
  3. Liz Steinglass

    October 26, 2012 at 3:41 am

    I especially love these lines

    …it will often
    appear to be gold
    (but don’t be fooled).
    Leave it to cool.

    Yes, it’s a poem we can all identify with. Thanks for the link to the poem-a-day challenge.

    Like

     
    • vnesdoly

      October 26, 2012 at 7:41 am

      Thanks Liz. Have you done one of these challenges before? They do stretch one!

      Like

       
  4. izatrapani1

    October 26, 2012 at 4:11 am

    Golden alchemy, indeed! And yes, so relatable. Time is the best editor, isn’t it? Lovely poem 🙂

    Like

     
    • vnesdoly

      October 26, 2012 at 7:43 am

      Thanks Iza! Yes, time is the real gold here, I think, Iza. (And the internet with its urge to make us impulsive and immediate is the enemy? Sometimes I think so.)

      Like

       
  5. Laura Shovan

    October 26, 2012 at 4:13 am

    I love “the flame of thought.” I did NaNoWriMo a few years ago and had a blast. It’s a great exercise — a good stretch for writers. I keep hoping I’ll get back to that novel and revise what I wrote in that mad rush. Good luck with your poem a day challenge.

    Like

     
    • vnesdoly

      October 26, 2012 at 7:46 am

      Laura, good for you for finishing a NaNo project. That’s a good description “I wrote in that mad rush.” One really does. But, it was good for me. I tend to be a edit-as-you-go writer. Not good. But that month, I just poured it out and I found it wonderfully freeing (and I told myself then, I would always write that way. But have I? No!)

      Like

       
  6. Tara

    October 26, 2012 at 5:02 am

    Position the inert element
    (any prompt will do)
    into the beaker of an empty page
    and bathe in the acid of a long stare.

    You’ve captured the intensity of the writing moment so well here…when one is so focused on an idea and willing it into something worthy of being written down.

    Like

     
    • vnesdoly

      October 26, 2012 at 7:50 am

      Thanks Tara. It seems all of us writers have been there–in that moment of focus and hope, which can also paralyze us if we listen to the voices that always whisper back – this is so cliche; not worthy, boring. Writing lots and every day, no matter what the outcome, can break the power of that negative talk (at least I’m hoping!)

      Like

       
  7. Carol Wilcox

    October 26, 2012 at 7:19 am

    Violet,
    I agree with several other folks- the lines that resonate for me are
    At this point it will often
    appear to be gold
    (but don’t be fooled).
    Leave it to cool.

    I also love this image:
    Placing vessel over the flame of thought
    heat until surface softens
    and breaks into fault lines.

    It seems like so much of my best writing comes from those “fault lines.”
    I’m seriously contemplating NaNoWri Mo. I’m kind of afraid, though …

    Like

     
    • vnesdoly

      October 26, 2012 at 7:54 am

      Thanks for visiting, Carol! I’m sure you caught what I was trying to imply with the “fooled” i.e. ‘fool’s gold.’ As I wrote this, I remember thinking back to my high school chemistry labs and remembering what we did with our beakers and bunsen burners.

      “Contemplating” is a good thing to do before joining NaNo, though their mailouts are so encouraging and energizing, that they help you believe that you CAN do this!

      Like

       
  8. haitiruth

    October 26, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    Violet, this is perfect! You’ve really captured how it feels to write a poem.

    Like

     
  9. Linda Baie (@LBaie)

    October 26, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    I think you might write a collection of poems about writing, Violet. I remember one a while back about words, I think. It was so clever! I wish I could do the poem a day, but I have too many things going on this November. I have done my own poem a day challenge in April the last two years. Once one gets into the groove, it wasn’t too bad. In fact, the rhythm of the daily work just became habit. All those above have taken my favorite words; the ‘don’t be fooled line’ is just perfect. Thank you!

    Like

     
  10. Mary Lee

    October 27, 2012 at 5:37 am

    I love that “acid of a long stare” that begins the alchemy! Perfect. True.

    Hey, I think I’ll join you with a poem a day in November. We’re past the craziness of the first months of school, and I need to give my own writing life some attention again.

    Like

     
    • vnesdoly

      October 27, 2012 at 10:41 pm

      That’s great Mary! It would be so fine to have a little company in this.

      Like

       

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