Hey, quick question, before I post this poem. (Note: question is not related to this poem, but to another.) In your esteemed literary opinion (I believe every literate person has one), how do you feel about publishing work that is clearly inspired by someone you know (someone who may read the work) but is not necessarily the subject of said work? I'm still on the edge, and I'd like your thoughts. On one hand, it may not be a good idea to publish something referencing another person when you can't be there to say, "don't worry, you were just the inspiration; it's not really ABOUT you." Then again, what does it matter? Your creative work is your own, in the beginning and end. And I'm not talking about the clearly offensive stuff either, just subtle qualities you may pick up from your friends and throw in on one of your characters. I know this is often something non-fiction writers struggle with as they lay out their memoirs. But poetry, for me, has become a fantastical sort of truth/fiction hybrid. I seem to have all the strings in my hands. I'm curious to know what you consider "allowed". You can message me on facebook to let me know what you think, too.

This all being said, I'd like to post another poem. (Unfortunately, its format doesn't mesh with this blog download, so it's just living in triplets for now.) I wrote it on the floor in the transportation section of Barnes & Noble while waiting for Tom's flight to land. I'd just taught a lesson that spent some time discussing the relevance of memory to poetry writing, why it is sometimes vital, and why, sometimes, it can be damaging. Richard Hugo believes it's typically better to know less about a place before you recreate it in your writing. But don't a ton of authors suggest you "write what you know"?

Apparently, today, I'm all about hearing both sides. Thanks for your input.


As a young man I dreamt
of biting into stacks of leaves
piled high like sandwiches.

It was just a dream.
My sister actually did it.
She spat out a caterpillar,

halved, oozing,
before I fainted.
My mother thought

I’d been shot when
she found me, my sister
crying by my side

with guts on her chin.
When I was old enough to marry
there were all sorts

of sandwiches at the wedding.
Cucumbers on wheat crackers,
parsley in sour cream on toast,

giant tomatoes cut into slabs
over mozzarella fans.
I ate until I stumbled,

in the yard with the swans
and paper lanterns.
My bride, the most

reliable woman in town—
they said her tongue could
do everything except

sound out the s in sorry—
she picked a mint leaf
from her drink and shook it,

two drops of tonic on her cheek,
she kneeled and told me
to open up.



Serena Tome said…
Abby I really like this one. To comment on your question, I write about people I know all the time. No so much about them but something that they have done inspires a lot of my work. You mix the art and the happening so well in your work I don't think it would be a big deal. Go for it.
Tara said…
I like the poem!
I think that you should publish all your work, even if it is inspired by someone. It might be nice to give them a bit of a heads up if you think that they will recognize themselves, or if you think it might bother them. But really, your poetry rocks and the world needs to read it.
Abby, to answer your question, here are a couple of MARVIN BELL'S 32 STATEMENTS ABOUT WRITING POETRY:

2. Learning to write is a simple process: read something, then write something...And show in your writing what you have read.

7. Originality is a new amalgam of influences.

In other words, it's absolutely OK to let others inspire your work. I'd say about 90% of the poems I wrote were first sparked by something I read. And ALL literary works were influenced by Shakespeare or the Bible.

For the one Dorianne inspired, I simply wrote "For D.L." under the title.

Personally, I would be flattered.

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