I am not a great planner...However, I am a good note taker, and these are the tentative reviews I wrote for todays events. These I wrote up over the dinner hour and therefore will not be spending an hour typing in. Look how efficient I am!
Presenter: Ben Percy
For instance, a supermodel might walk into a room, and what she notices might be designer label clothing, the way the light falls on her, or every reflective surface in the room from dark windows to mirrors to a shiny knife on the table. Seeing a character from the point of view of their job can also help the writer avoid cliché writing. The truck driver doesn’t describe his laughter as a hollow, booming sound, and the model wouldn’t say that she is stuck up, or only interested in fashion.
Point of view can also be affected by a character’s job. Joshua Ferris’ And Then We Came to the End is written in the second person plural, indicating that the personal identities of the people working in the corporate office in the novel have been lost. Point of view corrals description, and job determines the speaker’s point of view. Percy gave, as example, the voices of piano movers in Kevin McIvory’s story ‘The People Who Own Pianos.’ The piano movers in this story describe the spaces they move through in relation to what it is like to move a piano through them: narrow hallways, stairs, the inconveniently placed furniture, and so on.
Obviously, a writer may want to cast a character in a particular job in a field they have not experienced. In this case, research is essential. The writer must go beyond the internet and the library and spend time in the environment she wants to bring to life. It is essential to know the lingo—to learn how something is said and when. She must discover how that character would actually think and perceive the world.
In my writing, I have skirted professions for the most part, as I find that working in a restaurant or being a bank teller would be mundane. I see now that, boring as they may be, my characters can’t all work in a bookstore or be well off and not have to have a job. That’s wishful thinking. The job is real life.
Ira called these stories and poems our personal obsession. We each have subjects we want to discover more about. These obsessions haunt us, coming back to the page no matter how many times we may try to get away from them. He told us about his own personal obsession, writing about obesity. There is a memory he cannot get out of his mind, and he read us a poem, short story, and personal essay he had progressively written in an attempt to set that memory free. He told us that he did manage to capture that memory with the truth, but the haunting feeling which had been following him was guilt about the truth of the memory. Even writing the event down could not release him from that guilt, though it eased those feelings.
So there you have it, three hours of my day in a nutshell. It's a mighty large nut, but then, so am I, right? Now I plan to sit down and prop my eyelids open with toothpicks in order to complete at least one of the assignments Kwame Dawes gave us. Montana time, it is less than a minute until bedtime...Hopefully in this last week that I'm here (Or actually more like the last three days I'm here, I don't forsee it happening until then) I'll be able to reset myself to home time so I won't be late for work on Friday. That's the plan, we'll see how it goes.
Today was the last day of workshops. Ellen Bass signed my book (and said "For Hannah, With admiration for your fine poetry. So looking forward to working more together. xo"). Talk about the way to kick off a correspondence semester. She complimented the book, said she admired it, and was surprised to learn I'd helped put it together but seemed quite pleased. She is such a sweet, generous person and I'm so excited for the semester. Tomorrow is our meeting to finalize my study plan. That's the part where we decide what dates our packets are going to be sent to one another, and what each packet will contain (i.e. four poems, two reading commentaries, cover letter, who-knows-what-else). We also hammer down just what I"ll be reading this semester. I've put down several books that I've heard about at this residency like The Poets Companion by Kim Addonizio and Dorianne Laux, and Walking Light by Stephen Dunn, along with poets such as Billy Collins and Mark Doty. Those are, of course, in addition to the poets I had already marked out like Poe, Frost, Bishop, Levertov, Rilke, Strand, and so-on. I'm so excited to see what this semester will do for my poetry. I keep hearing that Ellen is very attached to revision, which is great because I can really use the help and encouragement to revise. I finally am ok with revision, it took me about three years to come to appreciate it, but now I want to know some of the things to look for. This residency has really helped with that, too, focusing on spare language, techniques to discover more in the poems, what sorts of things should be blatantly stated and what should not, and so-on. I don't know nearly enough and I'm certain she'll have a lot to say, but she just seems so down-to-earth and she writes the type of poetry that I'd like to be able to come closer to. So yep, I think it'll be a great semester.
I think, though, that when I come home I'll need to get a second job to support the coffee habit I suspect I'll be starting...I've bought coffee four times this week which is actually pretty good. I didn't drink any coffee for two weeks before I came hoping to make the caffeine that much more stimulating for my drive over. Problem was, I couldn't find a single coffee shop in a little town between Coeur D'Alene and Portland. I could barely find a Subway for lunch! I admit to feeling just a little disappointed. So, I bought a huge iced tea at Subway in Tri-Cities and made the best of it. I tell you what though, Thursday morning I'm getting coffee with or without a coffee buddy. ...It would just be so much nicer to have one. Still, we'll see where that goes.
And now, I'm off to academic things. Or bed, whichever one sinks its teeth into me first. Good night all, see some of you soon, some of you sooner, and some of you not for a very long time.