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Monday, February 10, 2014

Things I learned from my readers

Purchase Gods of Water and Air
In book reviews and personal responses to my poetry, readers have revealed to me more about how and why I write than I could have learned through introspection. They've also inspired me to write new work. That's a poem prompt I've seen nowhere: "Write a poem based on one reader's positive comment about your poetry; then revise it based on another reader's critique."

Here are some things I learned about my poetic method and content:

* WORK IN LAYERS: "Many of her poems ... unfold in delicate layers as one reads on, and with each successive theme she offers the gift of insight, “I toss away/ What I can for a journey into the fault. / But the ground coughs me up. / A shiver and I straighten, /and then again bow/ to all the gods of upheaval.” - Ami Kaye, Pirene's Fountain, a review of Gods of Water and Air.

* BE PAINTERLY: “In Gods of Water and Air, Rachel Dacus turns a painterly eye onto both the nooks and crannies of our world — ‘hints of rose madder in the cerulean,’ a palm tree’s ‘rigid, rattling arguments’ — and ‘the blue immensity’ that holds us all. — Molly Fisk, author of The More Difficult Beauty and Blow-Drying a Chicken.

* LET SPIRITUAL CONCERNS SHINE THROUGH: “One of the most full-breathed, transfiguring books I have partaken of for a long time.” — personal note from Naomi Shihab Nye after reading my book Earth Lessons.

I always thought I had successfully hidden my urge to transfigure, but it seems, no I didn't. So I might as well give myself the freedom to write as a spiritual being -- that is, someone interested in the life's layers and epiphanies and doubts informed by a core faith. I really can't help but write from it.

The biggest thing all reader responses have shown me is that there's nowhere to hide -- a freeing revelation! So thanks for the feedback, comments, and praise, and especially the reviews and critiques. And thanks very much for reading!
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