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The Mystery That This Writing Is...

For last week's online poetry class, the teacher asked us to work with a list of objects then find a way to construct a poem out of them. I looked around the room where I write, the living room, the kitchen and over an afternoon composed a list of 40 or 50 random, unconnected things. Then the next day, sat down to do some freewriting, to see what words would emerge, what sounds, what music that might find its way to be shaped into some kind of poem. From the longer list, here's what I ended up using,

-- the remote for the Bose radio I listen to while writing each morning
-- sand dollars found on the Georgia coast
-- a lump of anthracite coal
-- the day of the dead skeleton sitting at a desk, typing, my writing talisman
-- the wording on a box of cotton bond paper
-- the Lewis and Clark commemorative nickel on my desk
-- the Amazon.com box filled with travel stuff for our April Adriatic trip
-- boarding passes from our trip to Kaua'i tacked onto the bulletin board next to the big computer where I've been working since my iBook died
-- the Wonder Woman pez I got from Denise and Paul for my 40th birthday that sits on top of the bulletin board. Paul (the brother of Jack my ex who died 3 days before his 50th birthday November 8th)

I started writing from the Richard Hugo line cited in his Triggering Town essay and let my own words roll from there. The train horn in the distance, the fog outside the window and then, from a random collection, a story emerges about the fog and Wonder Woman meeting somewhere for lunch. Surprisingly fun and the poem itself not half-bad. I wasn't sure if it meant anything but still...I'd gotten the exercise done.

Now, this week for class, we are to search more for the underlying subject -- beyond the triggering objects that got us into the writing -- and to focus on the integrity of each and every line. As part of doing that, I decided to learn more about Wonder Woman. Beyond the sillly Pez memento/talisman I keep here in my writing room, all I knew was that she was a superhero girl in a sexy get-up on a television show I never watched.

So here's where some of the coolness, the creative serendipity comes in, what makes this writing cool for me:

Wonder Woman was created in the 1940s, a feminist figure, with ties back to the AMAZON tribe of warriors as Diana/Artemis of Roman/Greek mythology. She was featured on the cover of the first Ms. magazine in 1971, my senior year of high school, and Gloria Steinem wrote an essay in that issue about her character. In the 1970s, there was also a connection to the I Ching, a tie-in to the Kung Fu, television series, one of the only things I watched during that time, trekking with G. or Snake over to French House because Harkness didn't have a T.V. There's a whole thing about Wonder Woman's techniques being about loving submission and agape by 1947. Agape meaning love that is wholly selfless and spiritual or the selfless love felt by Christians for their fellow human beings -- one of the only aspects of Christianity that I personally can continue to embrace. And also the mention of the original creator's unconventional relationship with his wife and another eccentric woman and the ways he chose to depict this first female super hero's sexuality. The newest Wonder Woman series was cancelled this month, November 2005 to be re-born and re-configured some time in 2006. Now don't tell me there isn't some muse working behind the scenes, manipulating meaning-laced strings?

Who wouldn't thought a Pez dispenser could lead to a potential series of poems? And I don't even read comics, have long said I don't like them. Maybe becoming a Wonder Woman afficionado will be a new goal for my 50th year. I certainly feel compelled to stick with, continue working on, this poem.


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