A New Beginning Trailer

  

   As I mentioned two weeks ago, sometimes past memories bubble up and explode into my consciousness.  That process has happened again, only this time it was not a memory: it was A New Beginning….  Having worked everything through in my mind, the time has come to complete what began long ago.  One last time my “Ancient Eyes” peer into the dark cavernous cave in my mind, seeking to illuminate the path that culminates with “The End of Time.”  As 2013 dwindles, my optimism grows and the feeling that I’ve been here before engulfs me.  For now, I depart on my journey to complete this project before the walls tumble down and I forget where I began….

Poetry Influence No. 1: “Traveling Through The Dark”

        Undoubtedly one of Oregon’s most famous poets, William Stafford is one of my favorite poets and I have selected his poem “Traveling Through the Dark” as my number one poetic influence.  Stafford has a style similar to Robert Frost in that it has been described as deceptively simple.  Similar to Frost, Stafford’s poems reveal a distinctive and complex vision upon closer examination.

        I’ve tried to follow the example of Stafford and Frost as much as possible with my poetry.  I believe my best examples of this style are my poems “The Cool Morning Air” and “Fly Away.”  Stafford’s poem “Traveling Through the Dark” deals with nature, death, sadness, and making tough decisions.  My favorite lines come at the end of the poem:

“I thought hard for us all—my only swerving—,
then pushed her over the edge into the river.”

        Two wonderfully simple, yet complex lines of poetry.  I couldn’t have written them better myself.  Just like the entire poem, these lines tell a story in and of themselves.  Below, I have included a YouTube video that is an excellent rendition of “Traveling Through the Dark.”

Poetic Influence No. 3: The Iliad

        One of the oldest works of Western literature, Homer’s ancient Greek epic poem the Iliad has deeply influenced much of Western civilization.  So much so that a Roman consul is said to have quoted the Iliad upon the destruction of Rome’s old nemesis Carthage:

“The day shall come when sacred Troy shall fall, and King Priam and all his warrior people with him.”

        Reading a work of literature that was written more than 2,700 years ago, I’ll admit isn’t the easiest task.  What fascinates me, though, is how the Iliad relates to history.  According to the mythological founding of Rome, the Trojan hero Aeneas survived the Trojan War and went on to become the legendary father of Rome.  Of course, not before fatefully meeting up with Dido, the legendary founder and first Queen of Carthage.  Going even further, Brutus, a descendant of Aeneas, is said to be the legendary founder and first King of Britain.  This begs the question: Why do so many foundation stories link back to the Iliad?  Personally, I think it is because in many ways the Iliad and the Odyssey were equivalent to the Bible to the ancients.  The ancients knew this, and liked the idea of being linked to such important literary works.

        As you can see, I am indeed fascinated by the history of the Iliad and history in general.  So much so, I alluded to Brutus in my poem “The Number.”  As you may have noticed, I like dual meanings so Brutus of Julius Caesar fame fits as well.  I suppose even Lucius Junius Brutus, who led the revolt that expelled the last Etruscan King from Rome, would fit too.  Isn’t it wonderful how many compelling meanings can be extrapolated from one name?  I think so.  In the end, though, a poem’s meaning is always determined by the reader.  That being the case, there is no right or wrong way to read a poem.  In this case, no right or wrong Brutus to evoke.  Whether it was written by me less than a year ago, or nearly three millennia ago, the meaning of a poem is always in your hands.

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Photo by Elizabeth McCullough

Influences of the Writing Process

        A blank page.  A story, a poem, even a work of nonfiction, always begins with a blank page.  A writer can, literally, write about anything.  So what turns a blank page into one filled with words?  Well, of course it is the writer, but beyond that it is the the writer’s thoughts and ideas.  Going even further, though, there must be influences.  Books, movies, music, friends, family, the list goes on and on….  I’ve always considered these influences to be my muses, which is why I dedicated “The Past, Present, and Future” to all of my muses.  As I continue the writing process of the companion novel to “The Past, Present, and Future,” I would like to spend some blog-time honoring the muses that made this project happen.  In total, I have singled out five poems, five songs, five movies, and five books that in many ways influenced me and became my muses for this project.

        Each week, for the next 20 weeks, I’ll reveal one of my muses and explain how each influenced this project.  It should be a fun journey through my mind, and my writing process.  Hopefully, it will shed light on the moment of inception.  That is, the moment this project went from a loose collection of thoughts and ideas floating through the river of consciousness in my mind to words filling up blank pages.

        Since this project began with poetry, I’ll start there.  This Saturday, I’ll begin the poetry countdown with my number five poetic influence.  I’ll then progress through the rest of my poetic influences.  Afterward, I will move through my music, film, and book influences in succession.  I’m excited to continue “The Past, Present, and Future” with this mini-project, as it will give me the opportunity to both single out my influences and explain how each contributed to my writing process.

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Photo by Elizabeth McCullough