Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2016  Vol. 15 No. 1
poetryfictionnonfictiongalleryfeaturesbrowse
 print preview
back JACQUELINE BALDERRAMA

The Running Brush

Zuihitsu is a Japanese form that I think speaks to my process. It translates to “running brush” and consists of an artful collage of content forged from lists, journal entries, emails, and other found phrases. While my poems don’t end in this form, they always begin as zuihitsus, as a wild scattering of material yet to be glued into place.

Being mexican-american with a mixed heritage, I am attracted to poetry as a crossroads for striking images. It can redefine what’s normal, what’s beautiful. I collect the personal narratives from my grandparents whose stories I hope to preserve, the facts on washed-up logs covered in goose barnacles, the Spanish definitions retold through childhood memories, the border-crossing testimony of a boy from San Salvador. I keep these pieces in my notebook, not sure how or when they will be used, but knowing there is something in them asking to be amplified. Any one poem will have ten or so instances that are part personal narrative, part fact, part observation.

The page serves as a space to spread these out, examine them, and find how they might speak to one another. I’m attracted to poetry because it feels a lot like painting. And perhaps this speaks again to the “running brush,” discovering along the way. Like a painting, a poem can often fit on one page, which helps me to see the whole movement of the piece as well as the individual components. Writing and revising become one and the same, much like painting over other images, and a poem can be five layers deep with the newest version—a discovery.  


return to top