Notebook

Rae Armantrout

Well, actually, I probably work primarily in this old school device called "notebook" where I, you know, fill pages with illegible text, and then once I start to think that my text is coming together, very often I'll do a version of it—just type it into the iPad. 

Rae Armantrout

Well, I think, I always used a notebook. You know, I couldn't tell you exactly what the notebooks looked like way back then, but I always wrote by hand. I think I wrote by hand then—I'm sure I did longer, took me longer to write a poem, and it also stayed in the hand-written phase longer because back then, when you left the hand-written phase, you had to go to a typewriter.

Rae Armantrout

I don't know if I would cross out [during revision]. I think I would just, you know, go to another page and rewrite.

Rae Armantrout

I'd probably have to have a few lines[in the notebook] before I thought it was worth reading them out loud. 

Rae Armantrout

Once I move to this [iPad], then I seldom go back to the notebook.

Rae Armantrout

I still, like I say, work in notebooks but I am sure that I started going from the notebook to the computer sooner than I would have on a typewriter, I am sure. But I don't have a clear memory of it. 

Bruce Beasley

Yeah. I carry either note cards or a notebook with me and scribble things down as I'm walking.

Bruce Beasley

Often I'll start with a title like that and start mulling it—and scribbling down lines for it in a journal like this one, and then when I get enough lines, either put them on note cards or just sit down with a computer and a notebook and start transcribing and moving around things that I've written in the notebook.

Bruce Beasley

I have a lot. I have a box of them this big, in no particular order. The other thing I do—you might be interested in—is once a year I print out all the notes, all the computer writing I've done. I keep them in a bound journal that is by year. So this one, for example, is 1999—and you'll see that a lot of times, when I work on the computer, I'll write a kind of journal, just sort of what's going on and what I'm thinking about, and working with stray pieces of poems that I've written down by hand.

Bruce Beasley

Just associatively. "Clean machine," for example, sounds good to me. I would write on a note card or notebook "clean machine," even though that doesn't mean anything to me. What's a "clean machine'? And walking, I'll start thinking about a "clean machine," just as an example. So, yes: how do you get from that prose to lines?

Bruce Beasley

So, on a typewriter I'll just save the pages and bind them into a notebook.

Amy Gerstler

I started writing poems when I was a kid before I had access to a typewriter or—learn to type. It was, you know, spiral-bound, lined notebooks.

Amy Gerstler

I think I would write in notebooks and then at a certain point transfer what I had to the typewriter.

Amy Gerstler

I think actual writing is almost all on computers now, but note-taking—is probably 75% notebook and pen, and 25% take notes on the computer.

Louise Glück

It just looks like a lot of typed poems with no author's hand apparent. I started keeping a journal when I had whiplash, because someone said, "You should start writing about what it feels like, because you'll discover that you're not in as much pain as you think you are." Ha-ha. I mean, I certainly was. But I started this notebook detailing my whiplash symptoms and the agony that they entailed. I always did it in bed at night, reviewing my day, and it became the most crucial piece of my day. That, and listening to the telephone weather forecast, which became Village Life.

Louise Glück

 I did the poems in the back of the book moving toward the middle, and my pain journal from the front, and then I'd start a new notebook. 

James McMichael

 I'll go in to these notebooks and take stuff from them. And then in that form, develop some of what's there—add to it. So, that's part of the process, too.

James McMichael

So, the notebooks are numbered. So, it'll be from Notebook 23, or something like that.

James McMichael

These notebooks...[points to bookshelves full of notebooks] And there are probably about 10 others and the ones that fit in that shelf right there—that's about 4 years of worth. Prior to those, I was working with 5x8 cards, writing in long-hand. That just got too hard to keep track of (I had boxes of them and arranged alphabetically), but this is an improvement on that. It's more... It's something I could find and I'd index these so I could find my way around these books. In a way, the cards—they just got too many of them.

Robert Pinsky

I have never kept notes. I'm not a note maker. I would get an idea for a poem and I would write it.

Michael Ryan

I don't think I kept a notebook in those days. When I went to Iowa, I was writing five poems a week. It was fun and easy-"Hey! This is easy!" And occasionally changing a word or two, and all by hand. 

Michael Ryan

I will write on yellow pads, and that'll come into the process. And then there are the typed sheets. It all sounds pretty chaotic when I say it, or really compulsive.

Stephanie Strickland

Like the last really big new book I did, Dragon Logic, the way I wrote that was, for probably six months, every morning, I had some paper notebooks and things. I was looking through old notes and things. And I would sit and I would write, every morning, for maybe three or four hours and at the end of the morning, I would go and type it up—I mean input it.

Stephanie Strickland

It was a bigger notebook than that, probably, a pen with wet ink—wettish ink, not like ballpoint—that has a flow to it, but again because of my hands, to have the least effort of writing. I like a big, like, engineering notebook with graph paper. Often, I had bigger ones like this. It was like a green graph on it. Yeah, I don't like just lined pages. 

Stephanie Strickland

And the other thing I do that's crazy is that I have some notebooks and then sometimes I go through the exact same notebook again and write into it so that it's actually a palimpsest of two different things that happen and there's no way that you would know—from the outside.

Nance Van Winckel

I work in longhand, on yellow legal tablets, or just whatever. I have different notebooks that I have. That's what all these notebooks are here; these are my various writing projects in process. They each get their own little notebook.

Nance Van Winckel

So yeah, early on - one of the things that's different now- is that early on I would probably just work on "a" poem, so I would write. I would have a page in my notebook, and there were lines, and I would move things around on the page, and then I would have another page in the notebook with a different poem. But over the years I've started working on maybe two or three poems almost kind of simultaneously, on the same page, which feels kind of nutty, but what I was experiencing that led me this way was that a lot of times things would be coming to me - images, lines --- that didn't seem to belong to the poem I thought I was working on.

Nance Van Winckel

So, I probably-as I said, I probably do 2 or 3 handwritten drafts and I'll actually rip the notebook page out. I have notebooks and notebooks where I have a big X through the page so that I do not get confused that I'm actually done with this version, and now if I look hard enough in the notebook, there is a later version of these poems. But I throw the old, ripped up pages in the back of the notebook, and there's a newer version somewhere in there. But the older ones are fatter and often… I'm also experimenting with line break, then too, with the shaping issues…

Nance Van Winckel

 I remember working on this one story and I had written something-a note to myself in my notebook that said, 'Flush out her dream right here,' and I had forgotten to do that. 

Robert Wrigley

Mostly it has always seemed to me that the only way I can get started is to just start putting words on paper, so that's what when I turn to this notebook. It seems far less effective to me to sit down at the computer and try to begin composing when I don't have anything in particular on my mind. Whereas in the notebook itself I can doodle. I can write a phrase. I can just sort of noodle around, you know, the way a musician would noodle around with a musical phrase, to see where it leads me.

Robert Wrigley

That's when I really start getting movement toward a poem to happen, and it used to be, as I said, whole poems would happen in those notebooks. Now, it can be a stanza, it can be 20, 30, or 50 lines, if it's a longer thing.

Robert Wrigley

This is my submission notebook, where I submitted things, and acceptances. I've been doing that for years. I started in 1995 and, most recently, I sent a batch—where did I send those—the Georgia Review and Smithsonian.

Robert Wrigley

I can go 25 years and pull out a notebook and sometimes make discoveries, you know? "This was interesting. How come I didn't finish this one?" More often than not, I wasn't capable of finishing it. I'd gotten on to something I didn't quite have the knowhow or the resourcefulness to find a way out of. Now, either I do or I've convinced myself I do. So, I get it back out and go to work on it.