Thursday, March 26, 2009

Space and Light (part 2)

[Insert various jokes about how I've kept my space from this blog for a couple of weeks now here]


I've not written much online in the last couple of weeks. There are a number of reasons, but the one that applies to this post has to do with space. I've been enjoying it, walking around downtown Portsmouth, walking across the bridge to Maine (which is fun to say, but I have to admit that it's only about twenty minutes to the border from here). I haven't wanted to be inside. I do a lot of revision in my head anyway, so this isn't necessarily a problem.

I've been thinking a lot about composition as it relates to place lately. My last space and light post had to do with spoken word, but I'm curious about their effect on written work as well. I'm not certain that my physical confines actually do much to my writing, which strikes me as odd. I feel like it should. A few questions that I feel like I ought to be asking:

If I were denied paper and pen (or computer), would I end up like my former professor John O'Leary, composing sonnets (or variations on sonnets), since the form would help my ability to remember and revise them? Would I do more with sound as I spoke aloud to myself? If I composed on scraps of paper, would I compose more fragmented poems, or prose poems, or haiku? If I wrote on the backs of grocery lists, would my line breaks come more often and lose any relationship to sound or sense? If I got a bigger monitor (which I had to do, as mine died around the time I stopped blogging - no coincidence), would my poems become more visually expansive (see Fig. 1)?

Fig. 1

I'd be a more useful blogger, perhaps, if I could draw a correlation here. But the truth is no. In my journals, I scribble all over the place, to the point that I now use an unlined Moleskine because I draw arrows and upside and sideways anyway. The poem in Fig. 1, the first poem in a sequence that will be published in Bathhouse: A Hypermedia Journal, was possible because of the broad bounds of a word processor, but I didn't "need" the word processor to conceive of the scattered words. I like to lay down while writing in my journal because it seems to make the space between me and the page smaller. But I like leaning back and listening to another poet and letting revisions and ideas just wash over me. And I also like a relatively clear computer screen, without icons all over the place, the opposite of my journal.

Here's the unlined Moleskine with notes for my audio essay "Persona," available on Arts & Crafts:

I've lost track of whether or not any of this is interesting to anyone else. Anyone else?


Just because I like it - here's a picture of my current desktop on the new monitor. Geeky joy indeed.


Karin said...

Very interesting to me! I think about this stuff all the time. Thanks for the photos--I love the moleskine page.

JeFF Stumpo said...

Ooh, I'm glad you like. Maybe I'll take some more photos of interesting pages from my journals and do a future post of them :-)

Oscar Bermeo said...

Hecka interesting. Legend has it that William Carlos Williams' first drafts were on the back of prescription pads. You gotta wonder if Williams was an architect or bookbinder, would we have "The Red Wheelbarrow"?

JeFF Stumpo said...

Oscar, also glad you find this interesting. I can't speculate on WCW, but your anecdote does bring to mind somebody who almost certainly would NOT have written what he did without doing the job he did: Whitman. Had he not been a printer, I have serious, serious doubts that he would have produced the Leaves of Grass that he did in 1855. The editions that came later, with the lines wrapped, might suggest otherwise. Anybody from the Whitman Archive want to jump in on this one?