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Follow the Musical Thread...

...and the meaning will be there. That's an interesting thing to reflect on as I try to figure out this whole poetry meaning thing. Richard Hugo asks -- Is sound a guide to discover meaning in a poem or rather is meaning used as a way to justify the chosen sounds? How is it I have been working my own primitive journey to find my way back to the word?

I started writing Pilgrimage out of a desire to capture an epiphany moment, to find meaning in an experience that began as painful and ended (unexpectedly) in the profound. But from the start I chose poetry rather than narrative. From the start, I heard the word angel (not a word I use often) for the neighbor and that she was there, hovering -- I remember thinking of her as a benevolence -- and then the words, sounds -- the musical thread I guess -- flowed from trying to capture that. Then, by the time I got to the end of a few more drafts, sound had taken over, come into sharper relief. Not in an abstract, arbitrary way, but as a way to augment the meaning? the story? I'd already been trying to tell. So I guess in my poem this week, the inspiration, the intention, the triggering town was my unexpected meeting of the neighbor and the poem's real subject ends up being, as Mary Ann wrote to me, "I have the sense, however, that the “angel” is more helpful to the narrator than to the unseen person who killed himself."


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