Christal Ann Rice Cooper’s on-going feature, “Backstory of the Poem,” allows me to say a few things about writing “Start the Game,” a tribute to my father’s final day.
For more backstories of poems and other features see: Art and Humanity in Photofeature.
Can you go through the step-by-step process of writing this poem from the moment the idea was first conceived in your brain until final form?
So many of us begin with emotion and progress, as Wordsworth in his Preface to Lyrical Ballads would have it, to evoke emotion in a state of tranquility by writing in such a way that our words evoke that emotion in readers.
Fair enough, but for Eliot, writing in Tradition and the Individual Talent, emotion isn’t enough. Writing, for Eliot, requires an awareness of where we fit in the tradition of poetry as well. No word is new. Each word, each line no matter how inventive echoes something in tradition.
In the ideal poem, for me at least, the words, emotion, and tradition as well as invention all align in some ways. The best poetry, for me, speaks to the long poetic past and look to a poetic future while addressing the present. I try to do that in every piece of verse. Take, for example, this mono-rhymed villanelle “Start the Game.” You could see it as a formal exercise, but I assure you it isn’t.
More at: Christal’s blog
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