It’s a collection of poetry about what is dear and personal to each of us, about what we hold just beneath the surface. It could be an urge to feel the kiss of sunlight against your skin. Or, to be recognised and heard, to know the intimacy of touching another. It might be a craving to win the lotto, or have a baby. It could be a wish for a dead one to return. My collection, Calling down the sky aims to unleash many voices of desire. It culminates with the voice of Papatūānuku and her longing for Ranginui.
This project has been on and off my drawing board for some time now. After sending the collection to a publisher recently, I received a dream rejection letter (yes, there really is such a thing). She provided detailed feedback on some of the poems, practical advice about length, and genuine encouragement to continue with the project. Now I’m filled with desire and new insight to make this work grunt out loud – gracefully of course.
2. How does my work differ from others?
My poetry is nearly always portraits of people, famous people and other real folk, fictional characters, and the odd self-portrait. Sometimes I write persona poetry which lets me speak in the voice of another person.
My work often includes snatches of dialogue to emphasise the sound of a voice, and to encourage readers to think about the sound of the character’s voice as they read the poem.
I like to ground my poetry with unpoetic but concrete details like the Edmonds Cook Book, the toilet, Weet-bix, or refrigerators.
3. Why am I writing about this?
Some of us try to pretend we don’t have desires, but when you get down to it, our days would be depressing without the whetstones that can make us behave badly, bravely, unwisely. Imagine how predictable the people around us would be if they had no desires. Desire is the architect of our best and worst moments. Seems like a perfect excuse for poetry.
4. How does the writing process work?
Sometimes I’ll start with some research, but even before that there will be a stub of an idea that starts the poem. It could be a snatch of conversation, something I have felt, seen or observed, a thought, or a sound. Anything really. I start with this stub and continue to write until the results surprise me. After that I polish, spit and polish.
This photo, ‘Sense’ by Tony Stano, provided the stub for a poem about a psychiatrist who wears only black, and her repressed desire for colour.
You can read more of my poetry here: https://sites.google.com/site/abrasartorelli/home
Next week (Monday 31 March), the Writing Process Blog Tour moves on to Mary Macpherson www.marymacphoto.wordpress.com Mary Macpherson is a poet, a photographer and a communications professional. Her photographic work has been widely exhibited, and her poetry has been published in a book-length collection, in literary journals, and as part of the collaborative work Millionaire's Shortbread (2003). In a review of Macpherson's first collection of poetry, The Inland Eye (1998), Paola Bilbrough writes that her poems 'say a lot - beautifully and with seemingly little effort - and many of the poems have a disturbing enigmatic quality'.