Margin Notes

CRAFT STUDIO: ABOVE GROUND BY CLINT SMITH

Apr
25

What I Was Reading: 

Clint Smith’s latest collection, Above Ground, examines the emotional landscape of fatherhood, particularly how parenthood has reshaped his perspective on the world. Through poems that explore personal and historical legacies, Smith reflects on the complexities of raising a family amidst societal upheaval. He captures both the joy of seeing the world anew through the eyes of a child and the weight of navigating a turbulent political and social climate.

In “This Is an Incomprehensive List of All the Reasons I Know I Married the Right Person,” the poet employs several craft moves to convey the depth of their love and appreciation for their partner:

This Is an Incomprehensive List of All the Reasons

I Know I Married the Right Person

Because on weekends you wrap your hair with a scarf

and you have so many different scarves that come in

so many different colors and now when I’m out in the world

every time I see a colorful scarf I think of you and I think

of the weekends which are the best days because they are

the days that you and I don’t have to worry about work

or deadlines just bagels and bacon and watching this small

human we’ve created discover the world for the first time.

Because when you laugh you kind of cackle, no I mean you

really cackle like you take a deep breath in and out comes

something unfiltered and unrehearsed and it’s cute

but also scary and isn’t that the perfect description of love?

Because when you watch The Voice you talk to the judges

as if they are waiting for your consultation. Because you

always ask the restaurant to make your pizza extra crispy

and then you put it in the oven for another thirty minutes

anyway after they deliver it. Because when you wake our son

up in the morning you are always singing. Because when

I read you poems I love you always close your eyes

and tell me your favorite line. Because on my birthday

you had my friends make barbecue

and we had leftovers for weeks. Because I like my cinnamon rolls

with maple syrup and honey mustard and you still kiss me

in the morning. Because you hold my hand

when I’m scared and don’t know how to say it.

What Moves I Notice the Author Making: 

  • Using vivid imagery to describe specific moments and habits shared with their partner, such as wrapping hair with scarves, laughing with a cackle, and watching their child discover the world.
  • Including specific details that create a sense of intimacy and familiarity, such as the routine of weekend mornings with bagels and bacon, or the way their partner likes their pizza extra crispy.
  • Weaving together both small, everyday details like wrapping hair with scarves and requesting extra crispy pizza, with deeper, more intimate moments such as holding hands when scared. This juxtaposition emphasizes the significance of both the day-to-day and profound experiences shared in relationships.
  • Repetition of the phrase “because” at the beginning of each stanza emphasizes the cumulative effect of these reasons and reinforces the central theme of the poem.
  • Utilizing enjambment, where lines flow into each other without punctuation at the end of a line, to create a smooth and continuous rhythm, mirroring the ongoing nature of their love and appreciation.
  • Appealing to the senses, describing the taste of cinnamon rolls with maple syrup and honey mustard, the sound of morning singing, and the touch of holding hands when scared.

Possibilities for Writers: 

  • Observe the small moments and details in their own lives and relationships, drawing inspiration from the unique aspects of their experiences, just as Smith does.
  • Reflect on their own feelings and experiences, identifying moments or traits that stand out in their relationships and considering how these moments reflect their love and appreciation for their connections.
  • Experiment with using repetition, enjambment, sensory details, etc., using the form of this poem as a guide.
  • Tap into their emotions and express them in their writing, mirroring the sincerity and depth with which the poet conveys their love and appreciation for their partner.
  • Analyze this poem as an example of effective revision and editing, examining how the poet has meticulously chosen each word and phrase to convey meaning and emotion, and applying similar attention to detail in their own writing process.

 

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