Poemcrazy: freeing your life with words by Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge is a book I forgot I had on my shelf–a forgotten book. Every now and then, I will pull a book off the shelf that looks unfamiliar–an old book–and thumb through its pages to see what it has to say to me now and whether I should keep it in my library or send it on a new journey.
Poemcrazy was published in 1996. It’s difficult to believe that in that short amount of time, the pages have yellowed around the edges, giving it the look of a book that was surely published before I was born. But no, 1996.
As I said in the last post, I do not write poems. Still I loved reading this book. It’s divided into 5 parts: following words, listening to ourselves, hi there stars, open the window, and lights and mysteries. Lovely. These five parts are further divided into 60 short sections, many offering writing exercises.
Wooldridge writes that it is often when she is walking that words and poems come to her. Then she gives us this snippet from poet Brenda Hillman:
“We walked through night ’til night was a poem.”
As I mentioned in the last post, Wooldridge often writes or tapes words on tickets. “Like a poem, a ticket is small, often colorful and valuable, allowing entrance to a special place.” She loves E.E.Cummings: “love is more thicker than forgot.”
Wooldridge gives us little bits of Emily Dickinson: “Inside a moment, centuries of June.” And Wallace Stevens: “…there never was a world for her/Except the one she sang and singing, made.” Little facts like: “Donald Hall claims he wrote 150 drafts of his poem ‘Henyard Round.'”
Wooldridge suggests keeping a notebook and a flashlight on the night table. “We have to be quiet and listen for a bell or a knock. And we have to open the door.” Then she gives us the poem “Writing in the Dark” by Denise Levertov.
I am putting this book back on my shelf.
This sounds lovely. That note about walking is interesting; when I used to write songs, the seed of one would often come to me while walking, and then I would work on it as I went along. There was no car in my life at that time, so I got lots of opportunities. 🙂
Thanks, Emily. I thought the walking and writing was interesting too. And very cool that you used to write songs. Now I’m wondering why you stopped…. Also, wondering if you were writing them down as you walked or if you were able to remember them : )
I would totally put that book back your shelf! I know those moments in the dark when I’m almost asleep, my mind is stilled and suddenly I’m given a line or an image. Sometimes, in my crazy life, it’s the only quiet moment I have for things to come through.
Cristina, these days I’m always looking for an excuse to pass a book along, but I did have to put this one back on the shelf.
And I agree. It’s often only when I quit “doing” that an idea will come and that is so often in the dark. So it is good to have a flashlight or a pen that lights up!
I discovered this book soon after it was published and found it very inspiring. It helps to expand how a fiction writer can use words in a whole new way and cut loose. There is much we can learn from poets. Thanks for reminding me of this book.
Mssmartepants, it is fun to re-discover a book, isn’t it? I often read a poem or two before I start writing to get in “the writing mood” and to remind myself how much can be done with only a few words. And I agree that this book really opens up the possibilities as far as words go. Thank you for leaving a comment.
Love this beautiful world you’ve created online, and delighted you like poemcrazy. You might enjoy Foolsgold, (my next book) as well.. Working on another one now about land and language. Thanks for your words, may they spill forth playfully, and every blessing to you….Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge (and thinking of dropping the Wooldridge, going back to Goldsmith) xoxoxox
Susan, thanks for your kind words about Catching Days. And for taking the time to leave a comment. I’ll definitely take a look at Foolsgold.
Good luck with the name thing–I can relate : )