My poet-friend Erin who is working on a fascinating collection of historical poems says that she researches and researches until she starts to hear a voice in her head. As a non-poet, I heard this description with equal parts intrigue and envy. It makes a certain amount of sense, especially with persona poems, that a voice, with all its cadences and beats, would need to kind of well up before beginning. And of course it goes without saying that the voice has things to say.
For the past few weeks, I have been reading for my next chapter, rooting around in primary texts, criticism, histories, not unlike Erin when she prepares for another poem. I had one of those Days of Avoidance yesterday--the first in awhile--where I logged no time on my research. Those are probably necessary; I've always thought so anyway. Just now, while I was pouring cereal, the chapter's first sentence began to congeal in my head. And while it's neither an earth-shattering sentence nor a particularly pretty one, it's a beginning. For all my training to tag the notion of "voice" with romantic associations, it remains one of the best ways to characterize what just happened. Words started stirring. It needn't be magical or romantic, but that stirring or welling means it's time to put fingers to keys. It doesn't mean the reading stops, but it does get moved to the side for a beginning.