I’m definitely a prose writer. I’ve done some poetry in the past, mostly for classes when I was undergraduate or high school student, but in terms of expressing myself, prose is where it’s at.
But, it was interesting listening to Dr. Carol Tyx this afternoon. A poet, she read some of her works and answered questions during a visiting writers program at Mount Mercy University.
For one thing, her poetry seems in touch with narrative and description, which are two aspects I aim for in my own writing.
But what struck me the most were her remarks about her writing and editing process. I didn’t take notes, so this is all from memory, but in short:
- She seems to write mostly about real life. Granted, sometimes, she uses a character from a book she has read, but a lot of her poetry is intensely personal. Of the poems that she read, I think the one about her father’s death struck me the most—it was well crafted and full of emotion. Dr. Tyx was asked whether she prefers happy or sad poetry subjects, since her latest book has both, and she said it doesn’t really matter. I find the same, in some ways. Not that I don’t like happy, but what usually moves me is what is important to me, and the more intense an experience is, the easier it is to write about it. I find that writing is a way for me to process life experience, and that partly seems to be her approach, too.
- She has an interesting editing process. Dr. Tyx described how she has files on her computer of raw work, work that is being edited and work that is ready to release. “My poems go on a journey,” she said. She has written many, but notes that only two or three emerged whole—the rest take more crafting. “I can spend an inordinate amount of time on whether to place a comma,” she said. Maybe it’s because I deal strictly in prose, but I don’t tend to get so caught up in the mechanical details—but for me, most writing does evolve. If I’m struggling with a blog post, I’ll let it sit a day and come back, and sometimes what gets posted is far from where I started. Granted, other times it just flows. It seems to be flowing, now, which I hope is OK. Anyway, that idea of writing going on a journey is a pretty close description of what I do.
She is inspired by nature. She described being assigned a poem to write in sixth grade, and refusing to come in for dinner because she wanted to stay in the backyard until a poem emerged—and how she discovered it doesn’t usually work that way, but, on the other hand, the maple tree in the yard proved to be her inspiration. I don’t always write about nature, but I do spend a fair amount of time in my backyard, at least in summer, and there’s a reason I use “garden” in the name of my blog. I also draw inspiration from planet Earth. It was comforting to read a headline today that scientists predict this planet should remain in the Goldilocks zone for more than a billion more years. It’s a nice planet, full of gorgeous maples to inspire young poets in plenty of backyards. In fact, plants such as tomatoes and raspberry bushes where featured in several of the works Dr. Tyx read.
I enjoyed the afternoon. I hope the evening reading went well, too. And it was nice to see the Flaherty Community Room pretty packed for this program. More of my photos.
Write on, Dr. Tyx, right on.