Kristin Kowalski Ferragut
Poetry Collection as Story: Thoughts on Drafting My Latest Chapbook
I’ve spent the last few hours gathering, organizing and reorganizing poems into a Chapbook, a small poetry collection, in this case about 25 pages. I found it tedious, fun and ultimately inspiring. I think the sum of my pieces are stronger for being in the whole of this collection. I usually just find the process tedious and a little fun — it’s kind of neat to take stock of how many poems I’ve drafted and to shop among them. But it’s rarely fun like writing or playing music. I’ve drafted five or so manuscripts before today, all snuck in despite procrastination just under deadlines and all felt much like a chore. This is the first time that I’ve been inspired by drafting a manuscript. I hope that my enthusiasm indicates I’m on the right track.
Earlier today I described the steps of submitting a poetry book for consideration for publication to some novelist / essayist friends. I am sure it left them wondering why one would bother. It’s a daunting often expensive and humbling process. But seems a compulsion. This writing. This trying to beat the clock of everything else that begs for time and of age to capture words while I can. And then, once written, once I have a piece that resonates, that feels right, I have a sense that someone else may need it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been consoled or uplifted by a poem, often from a little out of print Chapbook found in a used bookstore by a poet no one else may have ever heard of. I smile large thinking of me being one of them for someone one day.
Chapbooks usually have poems related by a common theme. I wrote enough poems on matters of the heart to show the trajectory of a romantic relationship, at least one that ends in the way one might expect of a writer that thrives on melancholy and longing. ha! I looked through my work for evidence of delight, pieces to edit to add some variability and depth to the “story” and even wrote a spicy, new, happy piece. The weighing and measuring and deciding the chronology of this collection was well-worth the hours. I think I’m finally happy with a book. I plan to re-draft a full-length manuscript within the next couple of weeks as well. Glad that I’ll approach the project with a bit more inspiration even if the themes are dark.