Leopoldine Core's aura photo, courtesy of the author. For our series Making of a Poem, we're asking poets to dissect the poems they've published in our pages. Leopoldine Core's “ Ex-Stewardess ” appears in our new Summer issue, no. 244. How did this poem start for you? Was it with an image, an idea, a phrase, or something else? Often a poem begins wordlessly. It's as if the text is a reply to some cryptic spot in the back of my brain that I have become attracted to. I'm alerted to the presence of something that isn't solid. It has more to do with feeling, tempo, scale, and temperature. I'm so focused on that emanating region that, even though I'm using words, my experience —the start of it—is wordless and meditative. How did writing the first draft feel to you? Did it come easily, or was it difficult to write? (Are there hard and easy poems?) Some poems come quick and others take a while. But maybe the one that took years was easier in the end—I don't know. Certain poems require many rounds of rewording. When this happens I will rewrite one line forty or more times, then narrow it down to thirty, then fifteen, then five, then choose. But this poem was realized fairly quickly and required zero rewording. That happens sometimes. I tried rewording certain parts at different points but always wound up reverting to the original. The editing I did consisted of deleting maybe seventy percent of what was there, changing the order, capitalizing certain letters, and adding line breaks. I might have added a comma but I don't think so. Were you thinking of any other poems or works of art while you wrote it? Occasionally my friend Jane Corrigan will send me pictures of her paintings and drawings. There are two she showed me around that time—one is a pen drawing and the other is a Xerox of that same drawing that she drew over with pen and colored in with pencil. Jane's images are infused with such narrative possibility—I like to stare […]
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