While I still write on loose sheets of paper and yellow pads, I’ve lately been trying to keep my poems and other writing ideas in notebooks. I keep different kinds of notebooks, but that sounds more organized than it is. Most of them are a jumble of all kinds of written things. I have one notebook just for words and phrases I like. It’s a journalist’s notebook with unlined pages that a reporter-friend gave to me.
And here is the poem that grew partially from these questions:
Each night, I take my patches, blocks, and scraps
of fabric from the basket by the chair;
my thimble, thread, and needle comfort me.
I lay my stitches down and troubles fall
away. Before too long, I'm breathing with
the rhythm of my quilting -- listening
wide with every fiber of my soul:
the praise songs of my people; voices
of my kin; drumbeats of my motherland form
the threads that weave the fabric of my life.
I strongly believe one creative endeavor feeds another, and this definitely held true while I was working my quilt and the poems for I LAY MY STITCHES DOWN. I'd go back and forth between sewing and writing. Then when I needed to know some historical fact, I'd go off to the library to do a little research on basket-making or blacksmithing or the North Star or whatever. It was so much fun, I've decided to make a quilt for each book I write!
Ask and list 50 questions about the object before writing!
Then begin. You will know the object intimately by this time -- it will turn into a beautiful poem.
Cynthia has generously offered a signed copy of I LAY MY STITCHES DOWN: POEMS OF AMERICAN SLAVERY to one commenter on this post. Please leave your comment by Sunday, October 11 to be entered into this drawing.