Michael T. Youngs Comments
Both “Skipping Stones” and “Mother Ocean” came from a practice a fellow poet and I have been engaged in for over three years and which we call “trading fours,” after the jazz term. It started with one of us sending a random poem to the other. The recipient took a phrase, image, rhythm—whatever inspired—and wrote a “response” poem in about 10 to 15 minutes. The intention of the practice is to generate new work, not necessarily completed work. So we try to be spontaneous in responding, then edit later. The project has resulted in us both having a lot of material to work into finished poems. These are two of mine and pivot, as many of my poems do, on images drawn from bodies of water, such as oceans or lakes, and the various subconscious elements they hold in their depths symbolically. I find them endlessly beautiful and fascinating.
“Fertile Ground” is a poem in which I engage nature in general, the joy of it. But with this one I wanted to connect with something more than an immediate beauty or wonder. I wanted it to provide redemption outside or beyond its immediate moment, an evidence of a spiritual value that revealed its force in a dark time when it was needed. This implicitly connects with another of my persistent themes: memory.
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