I’m just gonna pose a question and give my answer since I can’t think of any good segues.
On what medium do you write poems?
All the talk on form, paper receipt rolls in class, and my compulsions to eavesdrop on conversations in workshop (we’re all writers here; we all do it) just had me thinking. Paper and computer screens take up two very different forms. Paper is tactile and takes up physical space, while digital words don’t. Granted, poems can be typed and printed out and will always clear at legible (probably). I think I’m more concerned with the process by which poems take up their first iterations, their first forms, though. Does it start out handwritten or typed up? Does that change how we write the poem? Does it change the end product?
Personally, I prefer writing things on loose-leaf, but typing is just quicker, easier to change, and easier to adjust things as I go. I find writing poems using my hand brings me to a more content focused part of my brain as the words just flow out, but I cross things out, add carrots, draw arrows, and mess the whole thing up until it gets messy. My handwriting doesn’t do it any favors either—I do this thing where my lowercase “h”s flatten out so they look like “L”s on the page, which I’ve noticed for a few years now but I can’t seem to shake it.
The transition to typeset is an important step if I do begin in pencil, maybe even more than the initial writing. The poem actually becomes something, it finds a concrete shape I can play with rather than just draw pictures declaring my intention to play with the shape on college rule. I try my best to convey formal choices, but conveying and applying are two different things. On paper, it’s an idea; on screen, it’s a poem.
It may be a relatively simple question I’m asking, but I think the genesis of a poem’s form can have lasting impact on how it matures. So, how do you write poems?
Thanks for reading.