See the Tupelo Press 30/30 Project to read the poems for March 22, 2014 by scrolling down to “Day 22/Poems 22” and of course, to read my poem: Sounds / by John C. Mannone
The backstory to “Sounds” starts with a prompt I found on the Internet last night: “Close your eyes and listen to the sounds around you. If the sounds are peaceful, write a poem with a violent word as the title. If the sounds are loud, write a poem with a kind word as the title.” (Citation: 30 Writing Prompts for National Poetry Month–a pdf file)
Of course, I had to open and close my eyes to record the description of the sounds and my impressions as I noted them. I called this brainstorming. I hoped that by the end of the exercise I would have connected with a memory for the poem to take off on.
Interestingly enough, the collage that emerged was the poem. Of course, the impressions provided the context. The sampling of sounds is pretty much in the order I perceived them. It’s an almost matter-of-fact report, which I didn’t expect to survive (especially in the beginning). By the time I got to the end I found I wanted to repeat the line that was there in the first “draft” with “I open my eyes.” And then it hit me. The narrator is blind. His world is nothing but sound (and touch). I can only imagine, but the world of sound would be chaotic to the untrained ear. Eyesight helps us focus our ears and background noises are filtered out. But with my eyes closed, all noises were competing with each other for attention. The resulting blend (to an untrained) ear was chaotic, cacophonous. So because of this, the randomized list of sounds was natural. I wanted to be honest, so I didn’t fabricate sounds that were not there, though I was creative in hearing some of them. That opened the door to a little surrealism, too, which I liked. There were many other sounds I did not record post facto (like the noisy children) because I began to see where this poem was going and they didn’t fit in with that. (Plus, the poem was already hanging off the first page.)
On the second pass, I introduced structure: line breaks, indentation. Also, I tried to connect the random pieces a little bit better to show some kind of continuity—how one sound flows into the next.
I gave it one more pass before I submitted it to posting.