For National Poetry Month, I’m writing poems inspired by words, ideas, and images in Virginia Woolf’s Diary.
In spring 1928, Virginia Woolf finished writing Orlando, a novel she began as a lark, “a joke,” and then finished “seriously.” It’s fascinating to follow her process and thinking through an entire book: the lighthearted, high-spirited fun as she begins and writes the first chapters shifts to feelings of drudgery and exasperation as she revises, edits, and proofreads. By the time she is fully finished and sending it off to be printed, she notes:
Anyhow I’m glad to be quit this time of writing ‘a novel’; & hope never to be accused of it again.
Thankfully, she got over herself and shortly after began working on The Waves (brainstormed along with Orlando in one bravura entry in 1927).
This found poem captures her mood using the form of the nonet. This nine-line poem begins with a nine-syllable first line; each succeeding line is reduced by one syllable. All lines, phrases, and words come from several entries she writes as she’s finishing correcting proofs of Orlando and looking ahead.
Day #14: After Orlando
What sort of summer do I desire?
I’m glad to be quit of writing
Why be always spouting words?
The old driving whirlwind:
writing against time.
And what to read?
(This is the cover of my copy of Orlando, which I’ve been itching to reread since reading the diary entries about its creation. And it’s orange, so it fits in well with my current reading plan!)