“Nothing That is Not There” Tupelo Press Poetry 30/30 Project Day 5

The title of today’s poem, “Nothing That is Not There“, for Tupelo’s 30/30 Project comes from Wallace Stevens’s poem, “The Snowman“, which came to mind during my writing workshop with poet Scott Cairns yesterday morning.  He was reading us another Stevens poem and I remembered how in college, I never really responded to Stevens’s work and found him a little cryptic and dull.  Years later, when I was teaching an American Lit survey class at LCC in Lithuania, I had to prep a class on the Imagists and reread Stevens more carefully.  This poem of his is one of those that “makes you feel like the top of your head is coming off” (Emily Dickinson’s phrase for what she likes in poetry).   The poem reminds me as a writer to stop imposing abstraction onto landscapes, or at least to TRY to allow the “natural object [to be] an adequate symbol” (Ezra Pound).

Since I’m here in Santa Fe, I got to thinking about deserts and how they’re primarily defined as such by the fact that they don’t get much rain, and different classifications of desert arise because of varying levels of moisture.  This seems like a strange way to define a climate – by what it lacks.  That’s the idea I wanted to play with, however successfully or unsuccessfully, for today’s poem.

As a reminder, the goal of this project is to help Tupelo raise money for it’s publishing endeavors.  If you are able, consider giving $5 on my behalf to help out.  Here is the link to their online donation system. Thanks!

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