See the Tupelo Press 30/30 Project to read the poems for March 16, 2014 by scrolling down to “Day 16/Poems 16” and of course, to read my poem: Describing Water / by John C. Mannone
Backstory to “Describing Water”
I contend whenever someone has “writer’s block,” then they should seduce their Muse (see my discussion on this website/blog). However, one additional technique I use to coax a poem is to simply describe something, anything that has the slightest appeal. Simply start writing without any agenda or intention of getting a poem out of the exercise. (Often that puts pressure and subverts the process.) But interestingly enough, a connection will be made to provide direction or context.
In this case, I decided to describe water. Even that was a tough place to start. I thought I wanted to describe the sounds of water: waterfalls, waves crashing the shore, etc. Instead, a much more calm sensation emerged. Think about it, when you’re in the warm Caribbean sea, the delightful feel of salt on the skin, the gentle flow of water through the fingers, becoming very resistive the harder you move the hands. Anyway, that’s what was going through my mind as I started to write. I had to stop for some reason (probably a bad move on my part, but I had little choice). I was left with a segment (about half the poem that wasn’t a poem yet) in desperate need of context. In the wee hours, my daughter called (in response to an overdue “I’m okay, Dad”). After telling me that she had been reading these Tupelo poems, I was surprised and delighted of her (emotional) support. As soon as we hung up, I decided to write a poem and dedicate to her. But I had no clue what that poem would be. I certainly didn’t connect her to my poem in desperate search of context. At least not until I woke up this morning. That’s when I realized the narrative voice would be that of my daughter, while she was still a fetus.
The structure of the poem is that of a birth canal, long and narrow. I think you might understand why it was continuous until the very end, when birth occurred. Study the line breaks. Some of them are quite good.