The Process

Posted by bernicky - February 17th, 2017

Making art is a process. Lots of trial and error, mistakes, failures – lots of failures. In watercolour the failures just end up cut into pieces and the backs are used for testing colour mixes. With photography pictures are either deleted or stored and never to been seen again. Few are printed. With writing a lot of it just disappears into the ether because of the way I write with a computer – delete, rewrite, delete. I’ve started to track the development of a poem to see how long it takes and what the process looks like. This poem – the final version is at the end of this post – took about two hours to get there. The first idea of it was yesterday morning on the way to work when the windshield of my car was smeared by truck splatter heading up the ramp off the 20 to head into LaSalle via Clement. I wrote down the idea in my notebook at the stop light.

Winter dirty windshield
cold dried tire spray of salt water lemon yellow and rose sun smudged

The poem has been worked on – off and on – over yesterday and today, but this time I tracked the process. Here are the various iterations with the last being what I think will be the final version – a haiku.

dirty windshield

heading east
freeze dried
salt rich
tire spray
lemon yellow rose sun
smudges the morning commute
with hope filled light

lemon yellow rose
eastern sky morning commute
windshield smudged by hope

lemon yellow rose
eastern sky morning commute
hope blurred windshield

lemon yellow rose
eastern sky morning commute
vision smudged by hope

lemon yellow rose
easter sun morning commute
vision smudged by hope

lemon yellow rose
sun morning commute the road ahead
smudged by hope

lemon yellow rose
sun morning commute the road
ahead smudged with hope

lemon yellow sun
rose morning heading workwise
a road lit by hope

lemon yellow sun
rose morning heading eastwise
a road lit by hope

lemon rose sunrise
morning drive heading eastwise
a road lit by hope

lemon rose sunrise
morning drive heading herwise
a road lit by hope

I settled on “herwise” because, to me, a person gives one more hope than a direction, but that’s me. It is neutral enough that “herwise” could be a mother, friend, lover or even a ship or country, so the reader can take it in any direction they want. It’s not a complicated process, but it does take more time and effort than you would think to write seventeen syllables even when you do it regularly.

Just reconsidered the phrasing of the last line – and changed it. So here is the final version again

lemon rose sunrise
morning drive heading herwise
the road lit by hope

It must be “the” road not “a” road since it is leading to a specific person the path too must be specific. Ya, I actually think about this stuff. Consider this poem

untutored dog
being doglike
blameless squirrel
scurries treewise

Yes – I like the “wise” ending to words and use it whenever I like. I make up words for my own lexicon like popsicleate, pumpkinate and a whole bunch of other words I find useful. Back to the untutored dog. Why untutored? Why not untrained? Because the poem is political as much as it is cute. It is about sexual aggression. Once upon a time tutors taught boys not just how to read, write and do maths but also how to behave like men and gentlemen not dogs. Dogs behave doglike. Squirrels, the stand in for women in this poem, are blameless to an untutored dog’s aggression just as a woman attacked cannot be blamed for being attacked. Yes all of that is there, but it’s also just a poem about dogs chasing squirrels. It’s all in how the subject is approached.

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