My Blue Muse Writing Life

October 5, 2004

Dodge Report Day 3

Day 3

My last panel discussion was Conversations on Craft with Donald Hall. He reminded me a lot of my Uncle Don because of his bearing and booming voice. I don’t know how comfortable I’d be having him tear a poem of mine to shreds. He seemed very “old school” – not in the bad way, but in that he was very traditional.

Here’s a synthesis of what he said:

1) Dead Metaphors – avoid them at all costs. He used examples like, “the man cradled his submachine gun,” “crisp air,” “paralyzed with fear, “to dart away.”
2) Pay attention to sounds – study Keats, Shakespeare, and Dylan. Read aloud and listen to the long or short mouth sounds. Sounds give reader something to hold onto.
3) Punctuation – believes it should be taken seriously. No matter what be consistent. Avoid sentence fragments.
4) Line breaks – they manipulate how the poems is to be read. For this reason he doesn’t prefer prose poems. He loves the line, the conciseness of traditional poetry. Believe prose tends to “relax into abundance.”
5) Don’t be afraid to try writing traditional poetic forms.
6) Revision is key! Let poems grow. Don’t rush to publish. Be finicky with line breaks and word choice.
7) When asked about “writer mind” getting in the way of 1st drafts. He suggested to create a ritual to avoid this.

What he keeps near his desk:
Thomas Hardy, Andrew Marvel, Joyce’s Ulysses, OED, American Heritage Dictionary (for it’s etymology), and Roget’s Thesaurus.

There was more but this is the gist of it.

Oh, I did run into my friend Kathy Dull again and we exchanged contact info. Very Cool!

The predicted bad weather never came, but I did manage to get sick. Just a cold, thank goodness. I slept most of the day. But I wanted to get this posted while it’s all still fresh.

I was sorry to go, but it’s good to be home. And I’d go again in a heartbeat. What fun!

More later…

Posted by mybluemuse at October 5, 2004 8:00 AM
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