The Thud of Escapement is one of my watch poems. I visited the National Watch and Clock Museum in Columbia, Pennsylvania. I could fill several posts just exploring the interesting collections there. In terms of my poetry, I was inspired by the worlds of gears and precision within the watches and clocks. This became a great image for exploring a conflict I was having at the time. It gave me language, such as the delicious watch word, escapement, to neutralize my hurt of the moment. A common theme in my poetry is to get out of ego and take a larger view, in which one’s personal drama is insignificant to the forces around. I think of this as a repeating micro/macro device in my work. Usually, it compares human upset to the grand scale of nature. This time, it’s the mechanical detachment of watches!
Antiphon Poetry Magazine in the UK published another of my micro/macro poems, April in Myth. As I usually do, I gave my hot tub date a pseudonym for the poem. I like that I call her April but she’s been around too long to embody any flowery stereotype of spring. Contrast her youthful name to the scale of time in the poem, and the theme of extinction. Again, a momentary upset leads me to ponder insignificance in the grandness of time, and even a view of human extinction. There are hints at climate change mixed in with love found and lost.
Addah Belle’s Pocket Watch is proof that I’m not a good judge of my writing. I sat on this one for years because I felt it was too narrative. I don’t like much narration in poetry, just as my own preference. Some writers pull it off brilliantly, and it has its place in history. But I dislike it. Finally I posted it in an online critique group to get pointers on where I should start revisions. Readers loved it as is. (On the other side of the coin, I’m likely to be in love with a poem that readers tear to shreds. Not a good judge of my own writing.) The Bangalore Review was the first publication I sent it to and they got back to me the next day, accepting it for publication. Not a good judge…
Addah Belle, Auntie to me, was my maternal grandmother’s sister. Long after Auntie had died, Granny gave me Auntie’s old pocket watch. Long after Granny died, Mom and I found Auntie’s letters and the story unfolded. Auntie had been my first writing mentor. Yet I had never known her secrets or why she took such an interest in me. My answer to a topic that is narrative is to pick a different medium other than poetry. Along with the poem, I conceived a play about four generations of the women in my family and the secrets they kept. I wrote it to be staged in an old farmhouse that seems to be a giant pocket watch, gears winding in and out like vines.
More another day!