Monday, February 11, 2013

Guest Blogger, Peggy Rozga: Journaling Toward the Poem

This week, Stoneboat floats a new project, that is, hosting guest bloggers. As described in my last post, four women poets were in conversation throughout the month of January on the topic of blogging. This conversation, orchestrated by poet and Verse Wisconsin co-editor, Sarah Busse, has been written up by her and will appear soon in VW. Meanwhile, those of us that were part of the discussion determined we would try intermingling in the cyber-world by posting in each other's blogs. Let the experiment begin. This first post comes from Margaret (Peggy) Rozga. In it, she shares her suggestion for developing one's writing practice. I know I am going to try her method of focused "seeing." 

How and why do I keep writing?  Among the answers is this one:  I love that time vanishes while I’m absorbed in writing, especially writing a poem. 

I may be writing about a past experience, but I see it from the vantage point of the present and may find myself leaping into the future.  So in writing the poem, I’m somewhere outside of prosaic time.  In the experience of the poem, time is an ocean, fluid, waves rising over boundaries. 

Time: it is early Sunday morning as I write. I’m in a state of prose. I may or may not go to church. I may or may not write a poem.  I am grateful for the way I’ve experienced the inner temporal eternity, the inner heaven of the place where I’ve been when deeply into writing a poem. 

But I often puzzle over how to get there, to the poetic now, from the mundane here where I sit at my prosaic computer, still in pajamas with my feet getting cold.

One way I found is the practice of an observations journal.  First thing most mornings I write to fill up a notebook page. I don't record the ups and downs of my emotional life; I don't introspect. I look outward—the woman walking her dog (kind of dog, kind of walk), the way snow gathers and clings to branches of the maple outside my window—whatever is around me.

As soon as I'm done with one observation, I write down a new number for a new item or a new aspect of the item I was looking at. Or I find myself jumping into a past experience, sometimes one I’m surprised I remember.  I don’t impose any continuity requirements on myself.

Nor do I impose any length requirement for each item, not even a requirement to write a whole sentence, but overall I go for thirteen items and filling up at least one page.

By the time I get to observation six or seven, the writing often starts to flow more easily.  Sometimes I find myself gliding out of the numerical structure and into that more flowing feel of a poem.  Sometimes I feel I've noticed everything out there, but I still have the 13th item to do, and then when I finally see some 13th thing, it unfolds in a wonderfully boundless way, and I can't stop writing.

There are, of course, times when no poem happens, but then at least I know I’ve practiced seeing, seeing beyond the obvious, and that fits with my belief that poets are seers.  Sometimes the observations lead to an idea for my blog.  The blog is prose, but it too, I hope, has its place.

I'm not frustrated if these entries don't turn into poems. Not every day is game day, but when game day comes, I want to be ready. 


Margaret (Peggy) Rozga has published two books: Two Hundred Nights and One Day and Though I Haven’t Been to BaghdadHer poems have appeared recently in Stoneboat, Verse Wisconsin, the Kerf, Nimrod and as a Split This Rock Poem of the Week.  Her essay “Community Inclusive: A Poetics to Move Us Forward” was published in the Fall 2012 issue of Verse Wisconsin and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She lives in Milwaukee and blogs about poetry and social justice issues at

1 comment:

Sig. said...

Words to live by: "Not every day is game day, but when game day comes, I want to be ready."

Thanks for contributing to our blog, Peggy! This was a good read.