Saturday, March 3, 2012

Poetic Reflection Week 26: Elaine Danforth

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share on these questions and link my blog to your honor roll.

Looks to me like there are 11 questions. I've numbered them below, and my answers, so you'll know which ones I am answering. If it's too long, I am willing to edit it down, if you like, or you can-- these were mostly my immediate responses.

1. I call my blog The Danforth Anchor because I strive to use my writing as a force to steady, ground, or anchor myself and others. To offer an occasion to pause, reflect, and then be better able to choose a direction and move on as a result.

2. I started blogging in June 2010, at the encouragement of a friend

3. My first poem? On the blog, I remember it was called "We Are Not Amused or Turn This Ship Around". In life, I do not remember. I can only say that I've known I wanted to write since my first grade days at the age of seven, while I was still using those fat, red barreled kiddy pencils to write on the very wide ruled light blue lined newsprint paper with the dotted line to mark the level for the lower case letters. In second grade I first began to learn Haiku in school assignments, but I don't remember whether I'd written other poems before. I had probably started to compose little song lyrics in my head by then, though, which is similar to writing poems.

4. My writing inspirations could be anything. A lot of them come from direct interaction with nature or people when I'm on my walks, but some might be on mundane or esoteric topics outside my life, or directly related to any kind of life experience, mine or other people's.

Some of my poems just start writing themselves in my head-- I can hear them begin. From there, I may consciously try to continue with them. I don't always know where they're coming from.

Sometimes they just start with words I want to use, or sounds or rhythms.

5. Good poetry can be a lot of different things. The Jingle Poetry community often surprises me with the kinds of subjects that end up in poems, like a recent one related to high technology, that was very effective called "Nano Informatics" on the Zongrik blog. What impresses me is a unified whole, everything in the poem adding essentially toward a central idea, story or effect.

Do I revise my work? If it needs it. Some of it doesn't, I think. Probably most of it does. I do often write things and post them on line immediately, so many of those have had little or no revision. I am often able to improve a work substantially with revision, especially when sufficient time has passed to give me more perspective on in. But sometimes, I am restless about a poem, and the revisions turn out worse, often more complex and over-written, so in those cases, if I recognize that, I tend to leave the poems as they were.

6. As I said, I started writing poetry as a child, for school assignments, as far as I can remember. But I was also keeping diaries and journals, starting from fourth grade, at the age of 9. Sometime after that I began occasionally to write poems, either in or outside of my journals.

In my freshman year of college, I think, I wrote a poem I really liked,about an experience of crying over a jigsaw puzzle I was doing, while I was grieving over a difficult experience I was going through at the time. Later, I ran that by a poet friend in my dorm, who gave me constructive criticism and was generally very encouraging about my work. That helped me eventually feel good about choosing an English major, with the aim of becoming the best writer I could ever be rather than continuing on the path toward business major, which I could not love nearly as much as language and writing, no matter how I might try.

I don't write fiction. Fiction was my original vision of writing, when I recognized my desire to write, at the age of seven, inspired by The WIzard of Oz movie and the Oz books. I remember beginning a story book, typing on a piece of paper when I was a little girl, I'm not sure exactly how old, but probably before I was ten. I only got to the end of the first page, although I was very excited about it.

Later, in elementary and high school, I had to write a one-act play and a short story along the way. These were very hard for me to write, and the teachers did not grade them as well as they did my regular essay assignments or any poetry work I did for school. So I was pretty discouraged by that, and never cultivated a fiction writing skill or much of a concrete desire to do so. I would still like to be able to write a decent short story some day, just to show myself I could do it, even if it was not especially good.

I was very surprised when I learned the great American novelist William Faulkner, whose work I enjoyed reading in high school, considered himself a failed poet. A bit of a shock that writer of that stature would consider himself a failure in any realm of writing. I fortunately don't think about fiction that way so much,with my own writing. Poetry comes so naturally to me that I can sometimes barely write a line of prose. But I normally don't complain about that, or regret not taking a path to writing fiction, because I enjoy the poetry on the brain.

7. My favorite author or poet:

Shakespeare has been my most consistent literary sustenance, beginning in high school. Still haven't read or seen all his work, but I hope to.

8. Favorite quote:
There's a lot of quotes I like, from Shakespeare and others, but one of the ones I often come back to is:

"If it be now, ’tis not to come.
If it be not to come, it will be now.
If it be not now, yet it will come—the readiness is all."

~Hamlet Act V, Scene II

9. I support Jingle Poetry, including at the Gooseerry Garden, because it feels good to be read and to explore the work of other poet bloggers. I continue to be impressed witht he vriety and the fine range of work I have been discovering in the Thursday Poets' Rallies and the Poetry Picnics.

10. My future plan for writing:

I hope to publish my poetry in print. I had originally set a goal several years ago to publish a book of my poetry, even if it had to be just self-published and/or a chapbook. I figured I need about 30 well-revised and edited poems.

By now, there are more than 260 poems on The Danforth Anchor, so I've got the material, but I'm not so sure what I'll do with it. I think my next step may be to submit individual poems to magazines and journals that publish poetry, and see how far I get with that. But the most important thing is, no matter what else I may need to do in life, I plan to keep writing.

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