Over the “spring” break, while trapped in my lovely boyfriend’s small hometown for three extra days due to the blizzard (can’t complain), I got some much needed library time. He and I, both advocates of “Woah There, I Need Space” tend to do this thing where we frequent bookstores and libraries, but the moment we walk through the doors we fully acknowledge that we won’t see each other for a good two hours, besides occasionally hearing a snicker or a gasp from a few shelves over (side note- wondering how I could bring in a physical representation of these cherished moments for the source showcase). That is my idea of love. Braving the bitter wind and whiteout conditions, arm-in-arm, glove-in-glove, the walk to the local public library felt like a mission or maybe the trek to Disney World. It also felt like frozen eyelashes and potential frostbite.
After perusing the local history section, trying to persuade myself into caring about the forefathers of Albany and Schenectady, I struck gold in finding a massive dusty anthology about wildflowers of New York from the early 1900s. Laying on the carpeted floor in the botany and nature section, I was overwhelmed with the amount of language I had found in this book. I then pulled Jorie Graham’s “The Dream of the Unified Field” and read these two vastly different collections side by side. I felt like an alchemist, scribbling and discovering the intersections between Graham and Mr. Wildflower (I couldn’t remember the author) in my trusty journal. I felt a little sheepish in trying to craft a poem that stole lines from Jorie Graham, as if my poems should be bowing down to her in reverence, but for some reason this combination of sources just worked. I don’t think I’m insightful enough to describe why, but somehow these channels of source and language gave me what I needed to write a poem I’ve been meaning to write for awhile (but wanted to do justice). It was a sort of magic.
I want more library moments in my life, in my writing. I am continually wondering how many faded shag carpets and bookshelves I’ll have to loiter until I have some sort of divine intuition about what can combine, what I can mash my experiences and ideas with to create something new. I wonder how to come across source not just by accident but by knowing that the sources will work well together. I love the idea of having a poem in my head, in my Grace-voice, and being able to employ multiple sources that use language and images that attack my head-poem and contribute to it from wildly different angles.
When it comes to multiple sources, how do you know what the poem in your head needs? How do you know what it dreams of? How do you peruse the shelves of the library with intention rather than stumbling across books and other sources that happen to work? Or is this just another case of the “happy accident?”
P.S. I was so excited I lost track of time, but boyfriend managed to find me and pull me away from the library with “we should probably eat dinner at some point.”