Writing the difficult second collection

Praise the Unburied is my second poetry collection and addresses experiences that haunt, console, and redeem us. The collection gathers poems that address the body, the mundane, the expectations and failures of motherhood, as well as tackling loss and absence. 

The collection started as a National Poetry Month challenge alongside a group of poets and professors. We would produce a poem each day for the entire month of April and share it to the group; it was always going to be a process requiring both resilience and generosity. 

Sitting down in front of the laptop every day, summoning the muses, and engaging with language was a challenge, yet I was in my fifth year of contributing to the task of producing thirty poems. This made me no expert, however, on the contrary, I felt I was living the impostor syndrome every day and would think twice before actually sharing my work. But I selected of pile of good poetry books and immersed in the exquisite linguistic layers of the poets who inspired me. It helped loosen up and then lead to a creative flow. Being generous meant giving oneself space to err and practise kindness with my peers. The collection started coalescing and more poems found their way in together with the original thirty ones.

Before finding a home with Chaffinch Press, all sixty poems included in the five sections of the collection had been individually published. Following the same system of evaluation from my previous collection, I had them sent out into the world to find a home and taken their acceptance and rejection as a sign of validation or need for further revision. All poems had been though several drafts and went through different metamorphose reflecting the way obsessions and recurring themes find their way into our work and continue to haunt us until they are exhausted and written out. 

The fluidity of the poems and their shedding of skins is mirrored in the way form plays an important part in the collection. Paying closer attention to line length, meters, stanzas, rhythm, and rhyme schemes gave the collection room to breathe and also gave it a backbone. My hope is for readers to work things out on their own -like reading certain poems diagonally or following different red threads- but also to find themselves surprised at the playfulness and rigor of the poems. The obsessive muscles of this collection are flexed not only in the way certain themes pulse from within the lines, but also in the manner of returning to certain poetic forms. 

One traditional form I keep coming to is the sonnet. The collection is peppered with these little 14-line “songs” of different forms and rhyme schemes. Their ebb and flow -the call and the response- enabled me to engage in a conversation with myself and others. Also, restraining from following the traditional sonnet form allowed me to break guidelines and inhabit the margins of the creative process, unveiling unexpected imaginative layers. 

In one of the most famous definitions of poetry, William Wordsworth says “Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings.” Much as we may use our writing to channel our emotions and make sense of the world, however we return to and rely on form to practice technique as well as to improve our fluidity, vocabulary, and command of aesthetic choices. 

Although my collection reflects my interest in the way form and content complement one another, it is also an invitation to acknowledge the healing and inquisitive powers of poetry and accept the anchored and movable ties that bind us to the others, the world and ourselves. 

Clara Burghelea

Clara Burghelea is a Romanian-born poet with an MFA in Poetry from Adelphi University. Recipient of the Robert Muroff Poetry Award, her poems and translations appeared in Ambit, Waxwing, The Cortland Review and elsewhere. Her collection The Flavor of The Other was published in 2020 with Dos Madres Press. She reads poetry for various magazines and is the Review Editor of Ezra, An Online Journal of Translation.

Praise the Unburied

Praise the Unburied

Series: Poetry
Tag: Poetry
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