Received Reflex yesterday from Kristin, who had it for a while due to a string of personal hold-ups including recent surgery. Sometimes there are things that are more important than poems and art, so good wishes for a speedy recovery and Reflex is on the move again.

 

Since the last time I saw it, there have been wonderful additions including lots of ravens and pennies. (See, now you’re curious, aren’t you?) My process last night was to spend some time on each page taking some notes about what jumped out at me and free write into some of those images/words. I ended up fixating on images involving copper, which evolved  into a short poem that turns the focus of the last few pieces back to a more abstract concept.

 

Today I will enter it into the book and send it along tomorrow as quickly as I can since it’s been a while.

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I’m sorry I added weight to the project. I didn’t think about the shipping ramifications until after the glue dried.

It took longer than I thought. It answered questions posed by Rachel.  It involved wood and stone and words. It has finally made its way into the mail for Jon’s turn.

I have started by responding to a question posed by Rachel in her latest entry. I wrote three short stanzas. Then I mashed all three stanzas together. Then I pulled out just the adjectives, just the nouns and just the verbs. Then I pulled all of the first words, second words and so on. Then I pulled all the first lines, second lines, etc. What I have right now as a draft is two columns of deconstructed stanzas. It’s an interesting exercise, but I’m not sure where it’s going, even though I like some of the weird juxtapositions of language that are emerging.

Here is the adjective deconstruction as an example:

Dry and dank, algae-slick, gray

and splintered. Alone. Broken

and unpupiled. Solid. Petrified.

And here is a photo that is inspiring me as well:

I have given myself a mail deadline of Friday. Let’s see what happens.

Reflex has arrived. My, oh, my, the entries are just getting better. I need to spend some time to make sure I am up to the challenge. My collaborators are pushing the boundaries, and I need to make sure I can push back.

Well, I’ve already broken the rules: my round of Reflex should be in the book already, should be ready for mailing tomorrow. I’m still writing, so I probably won’t wrap it up until mid-week.

One of the things I’m enjoying the most about this process so far is how encouraged I feel to write the strangest, un-Rachel-like things. Most of my writing to date has been very narrative, very story-oriented. But I’m suddenly finding my voice driven more by images, by sound, by the possibility of something new opening on the page.

And pictures, too. I am not a photographer, no, not at all. But I like to take pictures. This side of the camera feels safe, feels purposeful. I like the carefulness of taking pictures, how precise one must be in order to capture the right moment, evoke the right feelings. But also how quickly it has to happen. How a good photograph is equal parts skill, vision and luck.

Back to writing.

A package was waiting for me when I got home yesterday.”You got something from California,” Donna said. “Oh, it must be Reflex,” I answered. “But it’s not from San Francisco,” she insisted, forgetting that California is more than our favorite city, and that more people live in it than Jon.

And indeed, it was Reflex.

Looking pretty much exactly the same as the last time I saw it – on the outside, that is. I spent about a half hour leafing through the new entries last night, and I am once again in awe of how fascinating it is to see the creative process of others.

So some ground rules for myself for this round:

1. Sit with it. I’m going to just absorb what’s there, and not write anything, until Sunday.  (This is more necessity than desire, as I have more schoolwork than I care to think about all due on Saturday.)

2. Beginning Sunday, respond to what’s in the book once a day for 7 days. At the end of the 7 days, I’ll put my favorite(s) in as my entry for this round.

That’s it.