Poetry Sunday: “Word Pond,” by Susan Kolodny

Susan Kolodny on “My Work on Creativity”

Several years ago, wanting to understand my own difficulties with writing and having worked as a therapist with a number of artists and writers, I set out to determine what makes writing and other creative work often so difficult and what makes it possible. I was particularly interested in the nature of the anxieties that inevitably accompany and may derail such work and why some people, despite those anxieties, are able to proceed. I knew from my clinical experience and training as a psychoanalytically oriented psychologist that there is more here than a question of talent. I knew, too, that despite some people’s beliefs, creativity is not a result of or inextricably linked to psychopathology but rather can be hindered or destroyed by it. These explorations resulted in my book, The Captive Muse: On Creativity and Its Inhibition (PsychoSocial Press, 2000). [Editor’s Note: this book is available from Amazon]


Susan Kolodny on The Captive Muse and “Word Pond”

My work on creativity was possibly an influence on the writing of my poem, “Word Pond.” Other sources seem more compelling though. Long before The Captive Muse, I had given a writing teacher what turned out to be a bad poem except for a detailed description in it of a specific though not consciously remembered watch. She said, “That watch wants a poem of its own.” I put the poem aside for several years. In time, through writing and psychoanalysis I came to recognize how powerfully water represents the unconscious and that water creatures—some beautiful, some terrifying—for me stand for its contents. I discovered, in part through dream analysis, that for me there are specific bodies of water, including a childhood pond, that are charged with meanings about discovering what lives hidden beneath the surface. 

I was able finally to give that watch—it turned out to be a previously forgotten gift for my 7th birthday—a poem of its own. I didn’t realize exactly the connection the pond and the watch had to writing though until I happened on the title in revising.


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Paradise Drive book coverRebecca Foust’s fifth book, “Paradise Drive,” won the 2015 Press 53 Award for Poetry and was reviewed in the Georgia Review, Hudson Review, Huffington Post, Philadelphia Inquirer, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Review of Books, and elsewhere. Recognitions include the 2015 American Literary Review Award for Fiction, the 2015 James Hearst Poetry Prize, the 2014 Constance Rook Creative Nonfiction Award, and fellowships from the Frost Place, MacDowell Colony, Sewanee Writer’s Conference, and West Chester Poetry Conference. “Paradise Drive” can be ordered at www.press53.com. For more information visit rebeccafoust.com.

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  • Judie Rae January 18, 2016 at 2:14 pm

    Wow! This is one of those poems I wish the muses had sent my way. Great work: evocative, moving.

    Let us see more from this poet.