“These are the notes/word bank I create while reading through the article (title and authors at the top of the first page). I take these notes in my poetry notebook, then grow the poem from there on paper, then in a doc. This is my process for all my found poems.”
“And then the first draft, on a legal pad (it’s actually in pencil, but I enhanced it so you can read the words):”
Slag for “Honeybee Dance…”
Barrett’s thought process is fascinating as she moves from draft to draft. Although we only accepted these two poems out of the packet she sent us, she also has another strategy, which, while we couldn’t include the notebook pages for them, informs her other work.
“While writing a ‘research based’ poem, I start by creating the ‘Biopoetics’ where I write down a blurb, no more than 400 words, about the interesting science I want to see reflected in the poem. Then I close that document and write the poem in a new one. This is the case for both ‘Euplectella’ and ‘Phycodurus eques’ – I publish the ‘Biopoetics’ on my blog, Meghan-barrett.com after the poem itself is published to inform my readers of the science behind the art.” -Meghan Barrett
“For amusement or use, because I see that you enjoy some glimpse into process- these are from a collection I’m working on, and all of the poem titles are either the name of a racehorse (Vain), a tomato strain (Beefsteak), or a mineral. So there’s an overall “animal, vegetable, mineral” theme. I’ve been just picking the title first and going from there. Here are a couple pictures of early composing notes on these two poems.” -Linda Wojtowick
Many of my own notebooks look like this-arrows pointing in different directions, new sections to be added later, questions that I pose myself-and this is one of the reasons I always start my work in notebooks. That freedom of thought is essential in early drafts, when you still need to let yourself be surprised by your own work.
Frankly, I never knew there were so many names for tomato strains. Wouldn’t First Lady II just be Second Lady? Who is Dr. Wychee? What kind of a name is Beefsteak? With just a little curiosity and observation, Wojtowick created a poem with some of the most arresting images in our second issue. We are all lucky to have her.
In a nutshell: this is an embarrassing photo of a lame secret that was supposed to stay hidden in a notebook forever.
I start every writing project with a pen in a notebook (it has to be lined, it has to be spiral-bound, and it has to be hardcover). This is because if I start typing onto a screen with a perfect white emptiness and a thin blinking cursor and a clean “delete” button, every word I write will end up deleted before it has a chance to go anywhere, and writing by hand forces me to roll with the punches—a messy activity that I’m not, as a major Type A control freak, very good at.
These two pages are basically the gist of the final piece, which is expanded and edited to make “ExpirDating” (which already loses its dash halfway down the first page—I’m the daughter of a marketing expert, after all) into a more legitimate company. “We’re betting on love” was the basic idea from the beginning, as scribbled on the first line so that I wouldn’t lose sight of my premise. It seems my biggest struggle in this first jotting was the naming of the customer, who started out with some pretty stupid names. I think I wound up with “brian1988” (eventually lowercased) because there is something sort of sad and plain about it; someone who is not trying to be funny or express very much but is apparently feeling in need of life experience on Valentine’s Day, which makes me want to hug him. And I mainly like to write stories about characters that make me want to hug them. Finally, it should probably go without saying that I’d been reading George Saunders at the time, and also that I’d been thinking a lot about dating culture and relationships, on account of I Am In My Twenties, and that is what we do.