Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Priorities and Pendulums

I'd been feeling guilty about neglecting the AWY blog over the last several days, until it occurred to me that not blogging because I was too busy working on actual poems might not be such a bad thing. It already feels a little strange not to be posting any of my work here (though not strange enough to warrant a change, yet), and I think it would not be difficult to slip from simply documenting my writing year to commenting on all things poetry-related. That's not to say that the former is more valuable than the latter, or more worthwhile, or even that the two are incompatible--only that it's a writing year, not a blogging year, so the poems come first, always. That said, I'll try to keep the stretches between posts as short as possible.

Now, back to the writing. I've been thinking about form poems lately, and villanelles specifically, which allow for a kind of exploration of sound and image that I find appealing. With their constant refrains and insistent rhyme patterns, they always remind me a little of the Foucault pendulum that used to hang in the Smithsonian, touching and re-touching the same points, but shifting with each stroke over the course of the day, its arc changing constantly if imperceptibly. Like the pendulum, villanelles seem to provide the hypnotic proof of some greater movement.

I've done a few villanelles before, and the urge to write one always seems to catch me by surprise. A line will occur to me, and something about its rhythm or imagery will suggest its suitability to the form. "The kids got guns, they say" is the phrase that's been haunting me all week. Whether there's motion behind it isn't clear, but I'm going to set it swinging and see what happens.

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