Sunday, May 26, 2013

Hint of a Spark ~ Progress and Process

Hello everyone ! I know it's been a frightfully long time since I have blogged, but I think the daily blogging thing will pick up after I move into my new apartment in two weeks.

For this post, though -- I wanted to talk about my poetry chapbook, Hint of a Spark, which I wrote while I was auditing Creative Writing 405 -- Advanced Poetry last semester at SUNY Oswego.
It's been a process -- a very different shift in genre that I'm thankful for. It helped me realize a different potential when it came to my writing, how I write and what I really focus on in terms of my poetry.

Hint of a Spark is a book containing poetry that focuses around the central theme of getting through heartbreak. It asks the question "What is Heartbreak?" and, on a more personal level, wonders why written events occurred as they did. The entire book is handmade -- photos to follow (though some actually aren't highest quality as they are cell phone photos; my SD card drive is being strange) -- and more information about the process of putting this project together.

I. Process

 The first part of the project was actually making the paper. For that, I had to use a pretty high quality and tough drawing paper. I chose one meant to be used with acrylic paints. To age it, I used the end of a pot of mint chocolate coffee -- you know -- the really mud-like stuff that occurs after the coffee pot has been left on too long? (I did that on purpose for the project, fyi.) Using a sea sponge, I put said coffee on both sides of the paper while it was sitting on some wax paper on a cookie tray. To dry it out, I baked said paper in the oven on 200 degrees for as long as it took me to apply coffee to the next sheet. So between five and ten minutes give or take. It won't burn, but it does curl up if you leave it in there longer -- it curls because the moisture is leaving the paper, mind you. That means it can get too dry and crumble around the corners. (Yep, that happened last time I did this for a project.) So just don't forget about it while you're working.

The second part to aging the paper was to burn the edges along three sides. Three sides, because one side would be where you would punch holes for the binding, and that would've had to be kept as close to even as possible. In the process of burning paper though, I got singed a few times, got ash all over my parents' kitchen and smoke hurt my eyes. If you do this, be careful in every manner possible. It is dangerous and can be quick to get out of control. Have water nearby just in the event you happen to love fire as much as I do -- and the burning process goes out of control too quickly. This time around, I didn't end up ruining any of the paper -- which is good.

The third part of the process -- (which I actually started first, and in-between coats of paint and layers drying, I made the paper) -- is painting the covers. These are made out of canvas paper, which I cut down to size. The paintings on both the front and back cover were inspired by the poetry and the events from which the poetry spawned -- and of course, because of the title, Hint of a Spark -- the fire was painted last. There are a few sparks, too -- and hey those might have been the hardest to paint. The background on both covers being a portion of the night sky in a heart shape through the darkness sort of symbolizes how, when in the idea of love, people focus in. The world is small again and revolves around the people, the emotion, the idea. This is the concept of "our little corner of the universe." On the back cover, I painted a waxing moon and the characters sharing the spark, which was growing. On the front cover, a waning moon, a fire, and the characters separate from each other, but with obvious broken hearts.

The next part was writing out the poems. There are 30 of them in this draft in total. All of them were written in quill pen and black ink. Some titles were written with a different sort of ink pen which was meant for calligraphy, but it did end up malfunctioning for reasons unknown towards the end of the writing-out-the-poems phase of the project. If you haven't ever tried writing with a quill and ink before -- I gotta say, it's an interesting process. You have to write slowly, carefully and not use so much pressure. Otherwise you just have ink splatters as opposed to anything else.

The last part was stab binding the book together with a thin red ribbon. I added a bit of black lace, because I actually tore through the book at one of the hole punches. But that's okay -- the original plan was to bind the book with the red ribbon folded inside the black lace. But that did not work as I had planned. I think it turned out pretty well despite that! You can see the epigraph, the ending quote, the titles, the acknowledgements and a sample of a poem in the other photos. Also -- The ending quote page was messed up on purpose due to the nature of the poetry and the therapy that was creating this book, no matter how difficult it was. To achieve this? I shook the pen with ink on it over the page, and also dripped fresh brewed Irish breakfast tea on it, and added water circles from the bottom of the mug I was using. Just for fun.

II. Progress

So the book is "done" in the sense that I have finished the project for this semester. Most of the poems I would say are very polished and could well be publishable material. Some of them might need a bit of revision -- especially some of them peppered throughout that were a bit newer than others. But I think, for a first real chapbook, (with a PDF version of 52 pages, still 30 poems) I have done a fair job with this. I am not writing on this subject again for a while -- not new materials, anyway. I will revise as I get more feedback on the project in general. But throughout this project I learned I am able to write in other genres of poetry. I can write personal poems that sound good enough, that read well -- that mean something to readers besides myself, even if specific locations are mentioned. The spark has nothing to do with an equation or a matching of two characters. The spark is mine. Mine to share if I want. Mine to kindle, mine to care for. It isn't the effect of someone else's cause. It's just a spark. And it's mine -- and I am taking this new vision of writing poetry and starting a new project -- one that entails being out and observing nature as best as I can, since I am moving to Oswego -- and combining the location of Oswego and all the natural places you can find even in that setting with poetry and inspiration. It'll be self-reflective as well as maybe a bit philosophical in nature. It'll be poems that locals and folks who work, live and learn in Oswego/SUNY Oswego will appreciate, if that's their cup of tea. That's my goal anyway.

And last but not least? I was interviewed about my book with a friend this past semester, and our video is featured on our school website here: [x]


Post a Comment