What prompts a poem? For me, it’s usually a line that I let simmer in my head, and if I pay attention to it and nurture it, it grows. When I wrote “Questionnaire for Indeterminate Purposes” I was actually writing two poems at the time, both of which dealt with naps in some way. I was questioning the reason for naps. Yes, I know many readers will scoff at that (and that naps are good for us), but I’m not a napper. Never have been. So I scribbled the opening question, do you nap, in my journal and suddenly other questions began to cluster around it. I was immediately reminded of one of my favorite Plath poems, “The Applicant,” which has a similar structure, yet obviously the tone of mine is much more playful.
If we’re honest, we all have some sort of list of questions that we’d like to know the answers to before being intimate (emotionally, socially, romantically) with someone, and this poem is my attempt at such. Of course, the title tries to disguise the reason for its being.
As for the actual writing process, my best work, poetry or prose, is always strongest when it’s first written by hand. Only after that messy and recursive process do I type up my work, and even then there are revisions that are not captured, lost in translation from paper to screen.
I never nap before, during, or after writing a poem. However, I will sleep until noon if left to my own devices.