blackbirdonline journalSpring 2014  Vol. 13  No. 1

Contributors on Process


Michael Bazzett
   Where Poems Come From

Oliver Bendorf
   What Is It about Singing?

Adrienne Celt
   Dedication through Destruction: Thoughts
      on Writing Practice

Rodney Gomez
   The Poem as Balm

L.S. McKee
   Ordinary Eros

Douglas Silver
   After and Before

Emily Williamson
   Found Objects



Since 2007, we have invited contributors featured in our annual Introductions Loop to comment on their creative process. This year, Michael Bazzett, Oliver Bendorf, Adrienne Celt, Rodney Gomez, L.S. McKee, Douglas Silver, and Emily Williamson step up to the task.

Michael Bazzett feels so compelled to write, he’d still do it if he "had to use pinecones." He credits an animal urge for his instinctive desire to make “little fables and word-machines.” He delights in the unknown, and the prospect of chasing the poem around as it lurks in the shadows is what keeps him writing. Bazzett’s ideal poem “has always something in its mouth, just going out of sight.”

Oliver Bendorf finds a way to hear the song of poetry in new places as a changing lifestyle changes his process. Recalling a time when his focus was squarely on poetry, Bendorf writes: “what I have to give is spread across poetry, painting, teaching, coursework, research, work, love, email, and a million other things.” He discusses balancing pure discipline with a newfound interest in painting to keep the poetry coming.

Adrienne Celt explores her fascination with human psychology and her “strong personal desire to connect with other human beings.” She maintains that a little disagreement between author and character is what “brings a story to life,” but if the ensuing process of exploration is overturned by a new understanding, Celt welcomes the opportunity to “think the work through in a totally new way.”

Rodney Gomez works from the “dead ends” of language, the fragments of notes. He trades intention and meaning for a writing process built on trust—in language, in the spirit, in the reader. If “grant proposals and budget analyses” are where language goes to die, he argues, the poem of measured delight and novelty is a sacred, redemptive space. His only intent is to reach “the blissful point of the language.” There are “too many logical arguments already.”

L.S. McKee describes how “lyric suspension” helps her manipulate time and enhance the conflicted relationship she perceives between a human and their environment. “Most poems grow from a narrative point of longing or escape,” she writes, which might explain why the speakers, whether crossing the Rubicon or rooted in the poet’s hometown, “hate on their landscapes a bit” even if it’s “only a projection of frustrated desire.”

Douglas Silver follows a theme of survival in many of his stories. He keeps the prose simple to “bring into relief” the inner conflict of the survivor and keeps in mind bits of language he’s heard that seem to inform the particular story at hand: “The child never rejects the parent first, a psychologist friend once told me. It’s a sentiment I kept near.”

Emily Williamson embraces curiosity. A full length story takes shape from emotionally resonant fragments or an eccentric neighbor’s disappearance will spark a string of questions that lead to a story. Staying curious about her process helps curb bad writing habits, too, and helps her adapt to different genres, such as historical fiction: “It’s about imagining those little moments, memories, and epiphanies for the character, and getting them to react in an interesting and believable way within a prescribed framework.”  end