In her contributor's note to BAP 2012, Kerrin McCadden writes:
I like collisions. I like to bang things together inside a poem and use a tangle of rubber bands to hold it together. In this poem ["Becca"], there is a clear story, and, I believe, a clear understory, but there are also a pile of antique bird books, Kafka, geography, my standing love of etymology and fonts, Mary Oliver, and the terror and thrill of letting children go. There is something in the gathering storm of wide and disparate reading that charges me for writing. I am fond of a coming-of-age poem that leans on Kafka, of a wish for a beautiful life that leans on tattooing, of a man who creates beauty all day by inking people's skin but does not know what a stanza is--who thinks its a kind of bird.
Living in this world for any time at all will expose one to an experience of something constructive being created from something destructive.
Creation comes from collision. The heavy element of iron that carries the oxygen in our blood to sustain our lives is born from the collision of molecules deep in the core of an aging star, losing their identities as hydrogen and helium, exploding in a climactic burst, spreading not only iron, but gold, silver, platinum--all of the metals we hold as precious--into the cosmos. And some four billion years ago a Mars-sized planet collided with Earth, a glancing blow that stripped away material that coalesced in orbit to form our moon.
Last night in San Rafael (CA), I attended a launch part for the book, Creating On Purpose, by Anodea Judith and Lion Goodman. Among other things, I learned from Lion that the "cide" of "decide" means to cut. When one decides, one "cuts off" some possibilities in order to gain others. And I took away from Anodea a satisfying saying: "We can have anything, but we can't have everything."
And so it is with our poems. They start with a word, a line, a "vision" and then expose themselves to a larger (infinite?) universe of words, images, and ideas, where the original material is pummeled and reshaped--even some of it destroyed--in order to "re-vision" the work, in order to bring the act of creation through the poem's entire evolution, not just to its inception.
And so it is with our lives...
Here, then, is the conclusion of McCadden's poem, "Becca," after Becca has "decided" on her tattoo:
on the bed while the artist marks her back,
his needle the harrow for her sentence. Make of
my life a place to stand, stopping-places, a series
of rooms, stances, "stare, stantia, stay." She has
shown him a bird she wants perched above the final
word, "stanza." It is a barn swallow--ink blue flash.
He says, toward the end, so she can know it will hurt
to ink so much blue. "I am filling in the stanza now,"
and he stings her right shoulder again and again,
filling the room of the bird. Make of my life
a poem, she asks me and him and her mother
as she walks away, make of my life something
wild, she says. I watch her strike out across
Number 10 Pond, the tattoo flashing with each stroke
and there is barely enough time to read it.
Thursday, November 15, 2012
Best American Poetry 2012: Kerrin McCadden: Collisions & Creations
was born in the Midwest, grew up in New Mexico, and has lived in the San Francisco bay area for two decades. Terry has published in numerous literary journals, including Best New Poets 2012, Crab Orchard Review, Green Mountains Review, Great River Review, New Millennium Writings, and The Comstock Review. His work has garnered six Pushcart Prize nominations. He is the winner of the 2014 Crab Orchard Review Special Issue Feature Award in Poetry. His chapbook, Altar Call, was a winner in the the 2013 San Gabriel Valley Literary Festival, and appears in the Anthology, Diesel. His chapbook, If They Have Ears to Hear, won the 2012 Copperdome Poetry Chapbook Contest, and is available from Southeast Missouri State University Press. His first full-length collection of poems, In This Room (CW Books, 2016), is now available, and his second, Dharma Rain, was released by Saint Julian Press in October of 2016. Terry is a 2008 poetry MFA graduate of New England College, and a free-lance poetry consultant. For more information about him and his work see www.terrylucas.com