Why Can't the Thing Be the Thing?

I've been re-reading my journal notes from the past month, specifically from Marie Howe's workshop in Provincetown. Each day we wrote 10 observations, which I've been keeping up with for the most part. Those observations have caused me to look outward instead of inward; although, all of my poems turn inward at some point. Still, it's been a good daily practice for me.  


Here are a few gems from Marie's workshop.

  • Have faith that something will happen.
  • A poem is communication.
  • What if we don't compare anything to anything? Meaning, what if, in our daily observations, we write about the thing--whatever it is. What can't the thing be the thing? Why do we need to cover it up with metaphor, adjectives, and imagery to create "mystery?" 
  • Tell everything you know, so the real mystery can arise.   
  • To get to the poem inside the poem, write it out by hand over and over again.
  • If your read your poems aloud to yourself, or record yourself reading, you'll figure out what's not working.

The biggest change in my work? I can't bring myself to use like or as in a poem. In my head, I hear Marie saying, Why can't the thing be the thing?


Also, I find myself binging on poetry by William Stafford, James Wright, and Jane Kenyon. Go figure.


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