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"How I write"

by Marnie Pomeroy




So I won’t lose the words that come to mind for a poem, I must write them down at once. Therefore, I keep writing supplies in my knapsack and bags and in various stations around the house. For these, a few kind persons save me office scrap paper with reverse sides that are blank.


Many poems come in the night. A clipbook of scrap-paper half sheets waits beside the dictionary on my nightstand shelf, which is the divide of an upright old wooden orange crate, painted pale blue. Next to the books, a glamorous chrome cup, salvaged off a plumbing fixture, holds sewing scissors, a nail file, a whistle, and various pens and pencils.


Beside the upstairs loo, thumbtacks support a pencil along the top of the baseboard, and half sheets of scrap paper, gripped by a foldback clip, dangle from a long pink shoelace looped over the clothes-hook high above.


Beside the downstairs loo, paper, a pen, and a pencil slide and hide among some books of poems on a campstool’s canvas seat — an improvised desk.


There’s a writing station on my kitchen table: the plastic bookstand. Its front is warped and scanty enough to require the short wrecking bar, lying under its ledge, to steady my current book. The front, and the hinged support behind, form a triangular space where I store shopping lists, pens, pencils, colourful bookmarks, and paper for jottings. (That flimsy support is buttressed by my weighty bronze bookend — a sculpture of a long-gone family bulldog, standing straight up on his hind legs, here lying incongruously stretched out on his back.)


My easy chair in the living room constitutes the last writing station. Here I revise each poem, numbering and keeping all of its versions together, stopping when the poem is as good as I can make it. Then I clip it into the appropriate sheaf, where it rests, floppy, beside the books on the shelf of another upright orange crate, this one painted grass green.


Right next to my chair, an opened luggage rack is topped by an upside-down, overlapping wooden tray — a perfect fit. This serves as a table for a dictionary, my little notebook for words looked up, bookmarks with holograms on them, and an aluminum loaf pan. The loaf pan accommodates an organized selection of work tools: scissors, a pencil sharpener, penknives, pens, pencils, a pad of yellow post-it notes, and a bright blue laundry-detergent-bottle-cap overflowing with striped paperclips and mini foldback clips.


For writing other than poems, my commonplace aka notebook leans against the wall by the easy chair. (Completed commonplaces, dating back to 1951, lie shelved upstairs with juvenilia.) And, hidden under the chair in a box, there’s the draft of a novel from my 20s to be used ruthlessly for scrap paper as soon as I need more.


With convenience perfected, my poems had better be good!