Pieces from Old Notebooks: Éireann Lorsung on a Writer’s Commonplace
I have been writing things since I was very little but I have only been keeping them in designated places (as opposed to collections of scraps) for a few years. Over the past five years I have been using mostly the same kinds of notebook to keep my ideas and writing and objects in. Usually my drafts don’t begin as such in the notebook, but the process of collection images or assembling my thoughts, working out my ideas and arguments happens there. The notebooks are the armature for the poem or piece of prose that will come later.
My thought is to show some of the process. I write poems and longer prose things. I read them, too. I find myself sometimes overwhelmed by the completeness of the world. Meaning, first, everything seems already to have been done, and second, that everyone else working now seems already to have finished their work while mine feels perpetually just-begun.
I think this is in part because what I privately (and not very usefully to my writing sometimes) think of as capital-L-Literature is what is finished, vetted, authorized, paid-for. And most of what I make is not these things. So for my post here for Poetry Month, what I offer is a selection, both transcribed and photographed, of pages and fragments from my notebooks. These are where my writing comes from. Which isn’t to say what gets written here becomes the writing. I write things down, glue things in these notebooks. Later, sometimes, I come back to them like I would to notes for a paper or an exam.
Éireann Lorsung is an American writer (two books of poems, MUSIC FOR LANDING PLANES BY, Milkweed Editions 2007 and HER BOOK, Milkweed 2013; prose published in DIAGRAM, The Collagist, and Bluestem; poems in many journals). After doing her BAs and MFA in the city of her birth, she went to France to work—then to England to study some more. She now lives in Belgium, where she runs a small press and edits a magazine. She likes talking to people about writing, art, and ideas. She also likes spicy food, Singlish, cushions that look like biscuits, and the word ‘turpentine’.