Being from the lower peninsula of Michigan, the U.P. feels like having a mystical, ghost-like sibling. Yes, we’re related, but something magical and unknown is going on up there. We trolls can visit, we can make jokes about Yoopers, but the land and waters of the Upper Peninsula will always amaze and mystify us.
Sault Ste. Marie has been a human habitation for 12,000 years. It is the earliest European settlement of the entire Midwest, beginning in 1668 with Père Jacques Marquette, who for probably no good reason other than childhood memories of school field trips and hours spent in genealogy libraries, reminds me of a synthesis of Saint Francis and my ancestor René Beaudin.
Driving into the Soo, I almost crashed when I saw my name flashing on a big sign above the bridge entering downtown. I’m used to my name in plastic or chalk at bars and coffeehouses, but damn, my name in lights at the entrance to a city. That’s what I call a welcome. Thanks SSM!
The reading at Bayliss Library was fantastic mostly because of some great Q&A from the crowd. My favorite question, which I didn’t answer very well on the spot, was about my revision process. I talked too much about logistics of revision and not enough about purpose.
More and more, I am learning that revision is about realizing that every word must sing. There is a Truth that one is after, and this Truth is based in music. Like a pure, in-key note, each word, phrase, line, stanza and poem must ring true. Occasionally, though almost never, this happens in the first draft. The rest of the time, we must work our asses and hearts off to find the words, and connections between words, and flow of words, that hold this Truth.
I don’t think this can be taught. There is no formula, no rule book. It’s about developing one’s ear the same way a musician and composer learn what is true: Listen. Read hundreds and great poems out loud. Read your own poems out loud, hundred of times. Listen.