I’ve been reading submissions for several different places & projects & workshops & friends & life. This poem is a stilted map of my process for reading poetry if anybody finds themselves wanting to traipse through process with me.
Read for impression. Lines
that pop. A floating quotation, a question, or what has been
spoken, and in what tense?
How touchable? —A you. An I.
The Title (Any author)
And context of a situation in time. A date. Then, look
to the form. Does she bleed into the creases of the page, or resolve
after six iambs? Does she finish after fourteen lines or given time, does she digress?
Would she repeat herself for your love? A pantoum; a ghazal
or a spell?
Look right. Each phrase. Each word. Each syllable.
Make a new poem along the edge. Look left.
Does each phrase start with the same careful plea? Make
another new poem from the words living along the spine.
Look inside. What do you see? Organs are repeated things. Displace the bones.
Dig between rhyme and reason. Put this stanza with that. Pair line three
with line seven. Touch line thirteen and remove
five words with your finger. Read
around the words you have removed. Fit
new words inside her mouth. Avoid all
theme until you have investigated soft folds
clearly. Join and destroy. Highlight
the unknown. Excavate. Each
lover is hidden in blank spaces. Find them
from the last word up. Look to this aperture. How
open has this illumination been?
What darkness does she hide from you? What beginning
is set in motion and who is resolved by a last, pleading and pointed phrase?