portion of the artwork for Emile DeWeaver's poetry

Emile DeWeaver’s Comments

A year ago, I wasn’t a poet. As 2014 closed, I felt creatively blocked, so I joined a poetry workshop for a change of pace. For our first exercise, we drew a box and wrote a poem in it. Then we divided each box in half and rewrote the second half of each line. This experiment produced “Two Kinds of Black.” We’d been talking about Ferguson, so I was pissed and discouraged. Writer’s block vanished, and I exploded on the page. That’s how I’ve experienced poetry so far, an explosion of me on the page.

“Where’s Waldo” and “From the Valley of December to the U.S.” came out in frenetic rushes, too. “Where’s Waldo” began as an autobiographical poem that turned into a obscurification game that mocked my masculinity.

When I wrote “From the Valley of December,” I was thinking about the degradation of humane values and the future of the modern dichotomy where the wealthy minority grow more powerful while American institutions dehumanize the powerless and grind their proverbial bones to dust.

“Lights, Action” was the first poem I didn’t draft in a 15-minute burst. I never thought a poem made from quotes in random documents from my living quarters would reveal my deepest conflict: my feeling of erasure through isolation versus art’s power to connect me to you. When I thought about it, though, it made sense because something intimately prompted me to save the documents from which I compiled this cento. As I compiled quotes, a conversation emerged between artists that resonated with me so powerfully that I wanted to enter the conversation with quotes from my various notes and works.

My challenge for this piece was finding an organizational structure. Employing the playwright’s model excited me (something to do with giving personality to the poem’s voices). “Lights, Action” is my favorite piece in this collection, and for it, I owe thanks to Steve, Anne, and Jeffrey for expanding my conception of poetic form and inspiring excellence.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 45 | Spring 2015