March 10th 2016

I’ve gone back to my old way of writing, no longer at the keyboard. I have a little moleskine sketchbook that a carry in my pocket and a pencil. Tonight I sat in a hot bath, as if in a Japanese sauna, read Basho and wrote in my sketchbook. I also keep my sketchbook in a pocket when I work. I love paper, the feeling of it, and writing on it.
···· footprints in the mud—mud in the footprints,
Despite winter’s sparing snowfalls, Vermont’s mud season thickens the roads and footpaths. There are deep ruts in the driveway back to the barn and the hood of the truck is mottled with it.
125 March 10th 2016 | bottlecap

6 responses

  1. I think I mentioned that I have gone back to writing with dip pen and ink. I think there’s an article somewhere, a study in regards to learning that posits: writing rather than typing results in better learning. I’d be interested in your thoughts on how writing rather than typing alters your poetry practice (if it does at all).

    • Haiku are the only poems I’ve tried writing directly through the keyboards, and the experience rubs me the wrong way, though I can’t really express why—yet. The first thing I’d say though, is that writing in a sketchbook means that all of ones sketches survive. I’ve gone back a number of times to find lines I decided not to use, and have made new poems out of them. A sketchbook is a deep resource of ideas and misfires. There may be ways to preserve that when writing digitally, but I expect it would be cumbersome. More generally, every time something is edited, something is lost—or dependent, at best, on the vagaries of memory.

      I once had a sketchbook maliciously stolen and destroyed by a jealous poet.

      It’s the only missing sketchbook, early one, but it saddens me that I don’t have it. A record of my ideas is gone forever.

      Other than that, and psychology, I think the difference between writing on a keyboard and writing by hand is akin to the difference between looking outdoors and going for a walk. A typewriter, at least, can be carried around and even taken to a cafe (not sure that Hemingway ever did that sort of thing, but surely he must have?). I have a beautiful and mint portable typewriter I bought for a song and a dance at a little yard sale here in Vermont. Now that I think about it, I ought to take it out to Hanover, on a sunny day, and write. Can you imagine?

      So can a laptop, but there isn’t the same engagement with the material world, with light reflected off paper—real matter—whether writing or on a typewriter. I know from other studies that the human brain is stimulated by engagement with the outdoors. That can’t be emulated. It’s much healthier to live and engage with the world we evolved in. So, if we take our sketchbook on a walk with us, or sit outdoors at a cafe where there’s constant stimulation, I expect that physical engagement stimulates the writer’s brain—the imagination—in a complimentary way. There’s a muscularity to writing by hand, or with typewriter, that involves textures, sounds, and smells that can’t be simulated.

      Just my thoughts.

    • :-) You have a poet’s eye.

      I guess it’s just the style I’ve developed, but I’ve really grown fond of single word first and third lines. When I get it right, I feel like the middle line acts as a pivot. There’s also on again, off again, debate as to verb tense in haiku. I tend to lean toward present participle rather than present tense too—mottling instead of mottles. I have absolutely no justification for this—just somewhere in me I prefer it. What’s the difference between mottles and mottling? Is there more an active sense in the -ing formation? That’s the way I feel it. And will usually prefer the present tense (in either form) over the past tense. I go along with the aesthetic that haiku occur in “the now”. How about this:

      ····ruts to the barn—mud mottling the truck’s

      Any thoughts?

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