Normally I write my poems at my desk at home in Vermont, but the poems in the current issue of Orion were written in France where I’ve spent some time in the last fifteen years, most recently in 2011-12. I’m very interested in how poetry exists in three-dimensional space, in physical acts, in the world at large. And in France, this inquiry took the form of an installation in a borie—the simple stone shelters found throughout the Luberon region where I was living, formerly used by shepherds to escape the day’s heat and rain.
I was lining the borie with sheep wool (which the resident spiders would rearrange in my absence). This physical activity in the orb of the borie began to alter my relationship with the page, so that I was perceiving it, too, spatially, conceiving of poems as occurring within that space. I wrote them down at my desk of course, in the village house where my study looked out to an enclosed courtyard—often my laundry hung drying there.
Since returning to Vermont, I’ve made many poems in the same way. My desk here overlooks a garden shed, apple trees, and woods beyond. On it I keep editions of my favorite Luberon writers, Jean Giono and René Char (whose line winds through “The hawthorn…” poem). I keep several dictionaries, both French and English, and a little mass of sheep wool. But regardless of where I sit transcribing them, the poems are written in the page.
Jody Gladding’s newest book, Translations from Bark Beetle, is forthcoming from Milkweed Editions. She teaches at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her poems “The hawthorn” and “the spiders my arms” appear in the May/June 2013 of Orion. Image courtesy of Jake Brillhart.