About the Poems
by James Grinwis
How did these poems come about? In 9th grade, if you can believe it, we were studying the gothic novel, had read Turn of the Screw, and Mrs. Boykin had given us an assignment to write a short story based on the idea of buildingsroman, the gothic form in which an engaging young woman comes to terms with something dark. My story involved a girl in a strange house, full of antiques and ghosts and phonographs that started playing by themselves. I am starting to think that early attempts at creative writing leave tendrils of themselves, or imprints if you will, in the writerly part of brains, perhaps to be resurrected later, probably in an unrecognizable way.
"Terracotta" came about as the result of a nightmare in which my son, who was 3 or 4 at the time, was lost in the middle of nowhere during a thunderstorm, and I was trapped somewhere and unable to help. My next shot at writing was consumed with that single image, and other images of violence and dejection began to form around it. It was written a year or so before Katrina hit, but when I look at the poem now I find associations with it.
I often partake in observing, or gazing, at things for a period of time in hopes of reaching some kind of tiny enlightenment. I admire poets and writers who uncork stillness and pour it into their work; James Wright, Charles Wright, Mark Strand, for example. "Special" owes a lot to Ansel Adams, though the last few lines convey a knee jerk reaction against the contemplative.