On Writing “Forgotten Image” by Rebecca Foust from issue 298.2

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Forgotten Image

After Gaston Bachelard

Your mother, reading, on the stairs in light

poured in a wide shaft. At night, shadows,

soft thuds and pleading, clink-clink of his ice

in the glass. Your mother, reading. Light seen

through a chink in a cellar wall. The attic air,

dry and dancing with bright motes. You know

it’s there, at the top of the house, the stairs

you must muster the mind to ascend. But how?

Where is the first step? Your old notebooks,

dust-felted, stacked up somewhere. Your mother,

reading. The sense of another life, inside

and outside the walls. An attic, other upper rooms

in the home. Other homes. You are a mother now

too—so many open mouths, so much to do—

your mother, reading. For herself. Showing you.

The poem owes a large debt to Gaston Bachelard’s Poetics of Space, from which it takes (among other things) the idea of a house and its rooms, especially the attic, as evocative of something more abstract, psychological, and universal than the physical structure. I was captivated, for example, by Gaston’s idea of the bird hollowing the shape of its nest—its “house”—by means of the pressure of its own breast. A nest round and hollow because it is the exact inverse reflection of the creature that created it.

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On Writing “Without Wings” by Carrie Shipers from issue 297.4

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When I was a teenager growing up in rural Missouri, I wanted wings so badly my shoulder blades itched, a feeling that resurfaces, albeit briefly, nearly every spring. I had the idea for this poem for quite a while before I began to actually write it, largely because I doubted I had anything new to say about the connection between wings, yearning, and modern adolescence.

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The Psychic Origins of Creativity by Ted Morrissey

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For quite some time now, I’ve been interested in what I’ve come to call “the psychic origins of creativity.” That is, where do the guiding inspirations for a creative work come from? I’m mainly interested in writing, especially fiction, but I think the question pertains to any creative endeavor. In an earlier draft of this post I wrote the above question as “where does the guiding inspiration,” but I think making the question singular is rooted in the well-established romantic notion that a piece of writing grows from a single inspirational event, person or object—and that’s a gross oversimplification of the process. Many things, most of them mostly unconscious, contribute to shaping a novel, short story, poem, musical composition, work of art, and so on.

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Lost in the Woods by Gretchen Tessmer

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Fiction is a product of the mind, all gears and levers; poetry is an expression of the soul, all thunderstorms and rustle of feathers.  At least in execution.  And at least to this writer.  I see my own imagination as a forest—dense and much tangled with briers, blackberry bushes, and thickets, home to many small, furry creatures and pretty songbirds.  It can lead anywhere, much like the woods in C.S. Lewis’s The Magician’s Nephew, where Polly and Digory tumbled into both decaying and newborn worlds by a simple jump into still pools of water.

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Honoring Poetry and Identity: An Interview with Charlotte Pence by Catherine Pritchard Childress

Charlotte Pence’s full-length poetry collection, Spike, will be released by Black Lawrence Press in 2014. She is also the author of two award-winning poetry chapbooks, The Branches, the Axe, the Missing and Weaves a Clear Night. Pence edited The Poetics of American Song Lyrics (University Press of Mississippi, 2012), which explores the similarities and differences between poetry and songs. New poetry is forthcoming from Alaska Quarterly Review, Denver Quarterly, North American Review, Prairie Schooner, and The Southern Poetry Anthology. She is a professor at Eastern Illinois University.

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Like so many relationships are formed nowadays, Charlotte Pence and I became “friends” through Facebook. We quickly connected as poets, women of similar age from similar backgrounds, and, since the birth of Charlotte’s first child, now also as mothers working to achieve the elusive balance between our work as poets and our families, or perhaps to debunk the myth that balance exists. Charlotte graciously agreed to answer some questions about these various roles, as well as her poems, via email.

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