Monday, April 24, 2006

Duane Ackerson in Rock Salt Plum Review

Here's another online poetry zine for you: Rock Salt Plum Review,which features interviews, essays, book reviews, and, of course, poetry. This poem by Duane Ackerson is in the current issue, Spring, 2006:

Notes on Decoding Snowflakes

All those books full of
sure-fire formulas
for writing books,
all those instructions
for stained glass windows or doilies,
all this must come from somewhere
and be pointing someplace.

One more workshop should do it;
the vat of molten lead
come to a point;
the phoenix,
push aside ashes
and re-feather the fire.
Class, take note;
take flight.

The apter students take fingerprints
off the rain,
convinced it's cutting
piano rolls on the side.

The less apt try to unravel
the DNA for Rhapsody in Blue,
derive the formula for Fats Waller or Monet,
while cummings protests:
careful, you'll crush
the tiny hands of the rain.

Duane Ackerson

It's a wonderful poem; we see the real writers living in and observing the world and believing in the magic even a simple rain can create. The "less apt," as the narrator states, live in the writing about the world. They live in the abstract ideas about the world rather than the world itself, in an attempt to reduce writing to a formula. They ignore the magic.

I understand the feeling that taking a workshop will make you a poet. I'm taking two weeks of poetry workshops myself this summer. I remember a few years ago it struck me quite suddenly that writing makes you a writer, not study. Study is very valuable, absolutely; but it is not writing. Simple, right? But I can occassionally be a little dense.


J.B. Rowell said...

Yes, yes, yes!
Writers write.
Writers read.
But writers who mostly talk about writing . . . hmmmm.

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of TS Eliot's essay on writing. He compares writing to a chemical reaction between two substances...
Anyway, I'll post what it's about. I also wrote a poem about the subject.

Amy said...


Reading and writing, nothing's better. I always feel a little bad for aspiring writers who start blogs about being aspiring writers.


I can see a potential reaction between the raindrops and the "fingerprints" they leave. If you find the relevant spot from the essay, please post it!