The blocked poet strips herself, reveals a technique only to be used in desperation

Although I've dealt with long blocks in my life, for the last decade, writing has been easy. When an image arose that caught my imaginary, I'd begin writing, and the piece flowed almost of its own accord. Sure, there was lots of editing, tweaking, re-arranging, re-orienting, and a piece might go through many minor revisions, but the original image came easily and as if my magic. The last couple of months have not been like that. Key images have not been emerging of their own volition. In the creative cycle I am currently in, I have to work a lot harder to pull the material out of my visions, unconscious, knowledge, wherever it comes from.

Because so many poets wrote about the recent perigee moon, I also wanted to contribute a piece. For days, nothing. Staring at day and night sky. Nothing. Went for walks. Nothing. Looked at images of the fabulous moon. Nothing. So on the night of the greatest fullness, I went out with my dog late, my iPhone with me. As we rounded a street corner, there the moon was. A bright spotlight in the sky. I turned on the Voice Memo, and talked for two blocks. Anything and everything that came into my mind. From that chatter, I created this poem. It went through dozens of revisions. I am happy with the poem.

For your interest, loathe as I am to 'show all' -such nakedness!- I also paste in the transcript I typed from the monologue in the Voice Memo at the end of the post.

While I don't recommend recording a monologue as a poetic technique because it is laborious, it will generally give you enough images to write a poem. It's an aural brainstorm. I like to walk the dark streets and whisper into my phone recorder. People passing think I'm on the phone. Yet, and this has happened to me, what if the Voice Memo isn't on and doesn't record your words? Remember to remember enough of the trail to re-evoke it or grab the tail ends of images. When using this technique, think of Yeats, who wrote his poems from prose he had written first.

Here is the finished poem. I spent some hours memorizing it trying to use a 'palace of memory' technique. The recording is different to my other ones in that as I am reciting from memory (mostly) the reading is less dramatic, slower. Since your eye reads way faster than the recording, I recommend closing your eyes to listen.

Music background, a re-arrangement of Jose Travieso's, "Shinigami's Dream, No. 7."

Wear White Paint for the Moon

We draw back,
it is not easy but there is no other way.

White fire spills from the cauldron of the night.

A pregnant belly of illumination where spirits gather before they arrive and after they return.

Moths against the lantern, our scorching hearts. Clouds skein like silver wool. Earth and stars spin falling into the vortex of whitening and darkening.

The moon is a rock that flew from our oceans and seeks to return to her womb within us.

Stark, startling, as I round the corner of a busy street. A spotlight in the charred sky. In the moisture of my eyes, squinting, a gleaming halo moon.

A barren rock of mountains and dried seabeds up there, dragging the oceans with her, her dress of tides. A queen of debauchery, a mythos of dark permissions. Or the purity of a white goddess worshipped by the skyclad among the trees dancing in naked circles drawing her power.

She is a pearl like a grain of sand in the oyster of the night that opens, a mystical lamp for the mutterings of poets and visionaries and the crazed in a world of forgotten harrowings. In the perigee moon what is untamed reigns.

Wear white paint, my love, so we may dance savage across the stage lit by the moon in the night sky.

Wear white paint, my love, so we may dance before the dawn draws us away.

A crystal ball for seers, the beginning of time crumbles into the end.

And as we sleep, faint and far apart,
we guard the moon in our dreams.


OMG, this is so funny! YouTube is offering some 'video-making' sites. This one is a text-to-video animation by xtranormal. It took 3 tries, but eventually a video appeared. It was free. Do try it!

direct link: Free Animation of Wear White Paint for the Moon

moon image from the daily bite

What I spoke into the Voice Memo as a way to deal with my current writer's block, which is impossible to read, impossible! The blocked poet strips herself, reveals a technique only to be used in desperation:

As I turn the corner from the busy street into the tree-lined street with bare branches I am stricken by the spotlight in the sky. The white, round, full moon. Athena is close tonight. She sends her arrows of protection; her arrows of strength; her arrows of forbearance; and her arrows of delight in self-empowerment. I walk down this street and feel the full white perigee moon, the largest in decades is watching even me, even my insignificance, smaller than a cell as I crawl the face of the earth. Gazing across planets, from my darkness into the light. She is blazing white fire. I bow down before her, on Lent, on Purim. The generosity of the light that guides us in the darkness, whiteness of the shadowed world. Pregnant belly of the world. Where souls gather, before they arrive and after they leave, to watch the pageants of life on earth. Who pulls the tides of the earth's oceans, and who caused the nutrients of life to flow together and combust. The moon. The moon. The moon. Celestial sister so close, exerting a large gravitational pull on the earth at this moment, so close I could touch her and I am fully magnetized with moon power, I am drawing the moon down, down. I am being drawn up through the moonbeams, up, up. The earth falls into the sky, the earth falls into the moon. The earth falls into the moon's eye in the sky. The moon is clear-seeing. The moon may be gazed upon. The moon is mystery. The moon is water. The moon is water. The moon pulls the waters with her as she travels through the sky. Her white wedding gowns flowing. Dazzling moon beams She is a queen of the night. And she guides me along the white sidewalk, shadowed, mysterious. Magic is afoot. Magic is everywhere. The moon is the mystical lamp of the mystics. The moon is the feminine; the moon is the masculine. The moon is a rock in the sky that was cast off from our ocean and who is forever trying to return to her womb within us. The moon the moon is a majestic tutelary spirit circling the earth protecting the earth watching over us. The moon reflects of the sun whitely. The moon in its whiteness reflects the light of the sun. The moon is a combustion of white fire. The moon sparkles in the whiteness of the round whiteness of the dark sky. The clouds flow like silver ghosts about her; the smoke about her is silver, is the grey clouds, the grey white clouds. She is stark and startling in the sky. She is a spotlight in the sky. She is bright. The moisture of my eyes causes her to gleam, her white halo. Moonbeams. She is heavenly. She is earthly. She is barren. She is full. She belongs to the realm of ghosts. She is of the beginning of time; she will crumble like a pearl at the end of time. She is a pearl of great price; she is the alchemist's pearl. She is the pearl that is like a grain of sand in the oyster of the night that causes poets and visionaries and madmen to induces reverie and madness when the moon is full the wildness begins. She is queen of the debauchery of the night. When the moon is full the sky clad people emerge from behind the trees in the forests and they dance and they have rituals and they bathe in moonlight on their bare skin. The moon is a psychic force. The moon is a crystal ball. The moon portends the future. The moon is past, present and future. The moon is the Buddha, the cool light of the intellect. The moon follows us, everywhere we walk the moon, the moon is following, a spotlight. Our way is lit. The moon is the white goddess, the triple goddess, White Tara, Kuan Yin. The whiteness of the spirit in its purity. The moon is a paradox. The moon has caught our imaginations and gathered them and spread them to the stars. The moon is our guardian. We guard the moon in our dreams.


By way of apology, or perhaps explanation, though many poets included reference to the terrible Japanese tsunmai in their perigee moon poems, mine has no reference to the tragedy. They were 8 days apart. I blame violent tectonic plates, the Ring of Fire, not the moon. The moon was a few inches closer to the earth than usual, and could not possibly have caused the earthquake which caused the tsunami. I wrote a long prosepoem on the Sumatra tsunami in 2005, and may write another on the terrible Japanese one, but it did not find its way into my meditation on the huge full moon that just passed. 

I'm including this as a piece in this week's Big Tent Poetry prompt: "to take a piece of your writing, or some other bit of written text, and try out one of the toys or tricks (on our new Poetry Toys page) to generate (reformulate) new work." The prompt sat in the back of my mind fertilizing ideas for how to write a poem on a topic this week (the perigee moon), and while I didn't attempt to try any of the 'toys,' I definitely used a technique to generate imagery for a poem. See here for other responses.

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Nanowrimo this year?

With the impossibility writing has been presenting for me these last months, I wonder if joining Nanowrimo this year would be a good discipline and challenge?

The first year I began where I was, and let a story unfold. Of course the manuscript is huge and unwieldy! I've never edited it into something more reasonable. Though it's possible that the urge to do at least one complete rewrite will overtake one indolent day.

Nanowrimo begins Nov 1st - enough time to decide.

The first one began in a temp job matching files to original ledger entries in a vault at a funeral home in Vancouver. A natural title was Book of the Dead, and I incorporated a couple of other texts, the Egyptian and the Tibetan ones, into the writing.

That was fun, discovering each day what was to happen, and layering the text with references to other texts.

We build on ourselves.

I find it inspiring to be among those who are running their own writing races separately but together as a group - last year of the 100,000 who enrolled world-wide, 50,000 participants made it to the finish line.

It's interesting to reflect on my own Nanowrimo path. In 2004, "Book of the Dead," was more of a 'novel' and 50,000 words; in 2005 my writing was shifting to prose poetry and I wrote that year's in smaller numbered segments that I still haven't finished but it came in at 50,000 words and then I spent a few days reading it and deleted a third of the manuscript, never mind (the first pages can be found at my art website here); in 2006 my writing moved even more towards the poetry end of the spectrum and while I wrote "EnTrapped WOR|l|DS" in November of that year I didn't enroll it in Nanowrimo since it's only 17,266 words, and too short for the contest, but poetry's like that - though it is a completed manuscript, which made me happy.

I wonder where this one might start and what the writing style might be?


The Keys

If I take off my readers, can I write? A disjuncture between life and writing, or that I want to hide? Without seeing the keys or the screen. Write blind. Behind where words form. The words that shape reality even as I speak them.

Glide through the world of words with a dancer's ease. My body is a word, a gesture, a line scrawling across the horizon of time.

Am I purple, or aubergine? A curve of a back before a computer, hitting keys I can't see?

And how many mistakes before we get it right?

And how many times are the crystal glasses broken before we can---drink, see, touch?

It's cyclical, the years go on, some good, some bad. There is no will to it. Whatever you want to happen happens; you are a consequence of your past; and each day is a surprise thrown up by the fates of fortune.

When I sat down to write I knew nothing,
and less now.
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