I attended Poets-at-Work for ten years, every Saturday, come rain, snow, sleet or hail (as the post office says) and even if we’d had snow, sleet or hail I still would have been there! So many Saturdays, so many memories, it’s difficult to choose for this little story.
Do I write about the indelible friendships I made inside those orange walls? Should I talk about how I’ve learned to look at my own work objectively and will often hear my comrades’ voices in my head as I revise my work at home? Maybe I’ll confide how I’ve kept years of poems – even ones that have been published in my three collections — with my fellow workshopper’s notes so I might reminisce, remember comments they’ve made that still help with new poems – my favorite one being, “What would it be like if you took out the last line!!”
Even though I no longer attend WAW I can still feel each person’s presence, and know that although I’m not there, they still care about my work. Every Saturday morning from 10-noon, I knew I was bringing my brand new poem to a group of writers who were committed to helping the poem be its best; they were there for me, as I was for them. I loved how we knew one another through our work – our words. Nothing can compare to that particular experience of closeness.
WHAT THE WIND DID
She hears it in her sleep
Ruining each dream like
The punchline of a bad joke
Sweeping of Santa Anas
Branches flying over the roof
Sparrows driven from their nests
Patio furniture tossed like confetti
Garbage flying like chunky crows
She wakes up to the drain pipes moaning
Remembers a night of falling through
Noise, shaken through her dreams
Let’s go see, she tells her dog
Let’s go look. Let’s see
What the wind did
Kim Dower’s new collection, Slice of Moon, in which this poem appears, was published in September this year. Her first collection, Air Kissing on Mars appeared on the Poetry Foundation’s Contemporary Best Sellers list. Kim’s work has appeared in Ploughshares, The Seneca Review, Barrow Street, Eclipse, and Two Hawks Quarterly. http://kimdowerpoet.com.
Each day for the 15 days leading up to the WAW Open House (October 7, 2012, 2-5 p.m.), we’re going to feature a current or former participant who’s completed a major project (book, film, album, academic credential). We’ll find out what they learned that helped them with their work.
Kim Dower, Poets At Work
Project: Air Kissing on Mars, a collection of poetry published by Red Hen Press.
[At Writers At Work I learned] how feedback can be so helpful when it’s given in a safe, non-judgmental atmosphere where participants are only concerned with the words on the page, what the poem means to them, what surprises they find. I learned that although comments are all subjective, and you can’t “please” everyone, diverse opinions create a collection and chorus of ideas that helped me gain a clearer understanding of what the poem means to me. Listening at WAW enabled me to get a stronger sense of my own voice and helped me develop and strengthen my poems and put my manuscript together.