A sonnet that begins with words yanked, one from each line of “returning the books to their shelves” by Bernadette Mayer.
I finished reading the 25th anniversary edition of Bernadette Mayer’s wonderful Sonnets (Tender Buttons Press, 2014) while we were anchored in Desolation Sound. Despite their distance from where I was, Mayer’s urban words and images suffused my dreams, and I tapped away at her lines, trying to understand how they fit together. One of Mayer’s projects in particular, undertaken with Philip Good, struck me: a list of fourteen words finds its way into a sonnet, one word per line (66). I decided I would try to co-compose with Meyer, by pulling words from another of her pieces that I love very much, a love sonnet entitled “returning the books to their shelves” (67). But as soon as I decided on this method and pulled the words from Mayer’s poem, I thought, I can’t make a poem from these words! I’m north of 50 degrees north latitude–what have I to do with cities, time, taxis, windows, phones or shelves? But then when I let the poem begin with that dilemma, the rest followed: I found that being where I am lets me empty these words of their ordinary contexts and make other associations. Evidently, the neighbourhood is everything, no matter where you are.
Image: reflections north of 50 degrees north latitude
First published in http://visiblepoetry.blogspot.com/2015/06/another-kind-of-wildness.html