Last week L.L. Barkat posted at Tweetspeak about “poem stacks.” She was talking about the way it’s easy to become jealous of another writer and the importance of listening to that jealousy. Instead of sitting on our hands wishing the jealousy would go away, taking time to listen and see what it has to say:
Jealousy is that piquing of the soul: “I’m not happy. I want. Why not me?” It’s a key which I never, ever throw away (nor chide myself for). You could say I honor emotions for what they try to tell me—rather than judging them, feeling guilty, or sweeping them aside. As humans, we’re built to feel. I like to pay attention.
I’m reading Holding Company: Poems by Major Jackson. I’m not feeling jealous, but I do want to put my hands in my hoodie pocket and say, “Major, what great words you have.” I started writing them down.
Chicory, thalamus, seraphic, nightsheets, turnstiles, stupefaction …
They’re rife with edges and curves, potholes and dark corners.
Barkat recommends taking words like those I wrote down from about a half dozen of Holding Company’s poems and creating poem stacks. “No one is really going to call these poems,” she says. But they are a start. And if you don’t worry too much about meaning, they sound pretty amazing when you read them aloud.