Poetry Influence No. 1: “Traveling Through The Dark”

        Undoubtedly one of Oregon’s most famous poets, William Stafford is one of my favorite poets and I have selected his poem “Traveling Through the Dark” as my number one poetic influence.  Stafford has a style similar to Robert Frost in that it has been described as deceptively simple.  Similar to Frost, Stafford’s poems reveal a distinctive and complex vision upon closer examination.

        I’ve tried to follow the example of Stafford and Frost as much as possible with my poetry.  I believe my best examples of this style are my poems “The Cool Morning Air” and “Fly Away.”  Stafford’s poem “Traveling Through the Dark” deals with nature, death, sadness, and making tough decisions.  My favorite lines come at the end of the poem:

“I thought hard for us all—my only swerving—,
then pushed her over the edge into the river.”

        Two wonderfully simple, yet complex lines of poetry.  I couldn’t have written them better myself.  Just like the entire poem, these lines tell a story in and of themselves.  Below, I have included a YouTube video that is an excellent rendition of “Traveling Through the Dark.”

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23 Comments

  1. That is awesome, interestingly the two times I have been to and from Portland has been in the dark. I must go back there and properly immerse myself in this guy, I always enjoy recommendations for new works.

    Reply
    • Cody McCullough

       /  June 2, 2013

      I’m glad you like Stafford’s poem. It is ironic that you have literally traveled through the dark in Portland. Here is a link to a great website about Stafford: http://www.williamstafford.org/.

      Reply
  2. I love that, when your put a video for us! But i need study more poet, to understand. Thanks for the lesson and beautiful poem. I still remember when your recite for us. I enjoyed that so much. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    • Cody McCullough

       /  June 3, 2013

      I’m glad you like the poem and video. I did have fun creating my first video poetry recital. I’ve been so busy lately that I haven’t had a chance to create any additional videos. You did give me an idea, though, for another mini-project. I’ll have to give it some more thought. Thank you so much for your wonderful comment. It proved to be very inspirational.

      Reply
  3. toad (chris jensen)

     /  June 3, 2013

    Reblogged this on tot123itsme.

    Reply
  4. How well does the poem work with the visuals and the Leo Kotke guitar! The poem made me wonder what I would do in that situation. It felt the closest to really being there. I think that’s what good writing is all about, when one can recreate that.

    Reply
    • Cody McCullough

       /  June 3, 2013

      Great comment. It’s very true that good writing can help to recreate the experience of being in a particular situation. I’m actually working hard at this facet of writing in my current project. It isn’t always easy, and sometimes it takes a great deal of rewriting. Hopefully, I’ll be as successful at is as Stafford was.

      Reply
  5. Fantastic! I’m hopeful for you too. Thanks for introducing me to Stafford. I write poetry but don’t read other’s very often. I’m in a bubble. hahha 🙂

    Reply
  6. Beautifully done. 🙂

    Reply
  7. Reading those 2 lines first… I expected something completely different.

    Reply
    • Cody McCullough

       /  June 4, 2013

      I thought it would be interesting to discuss the last two lines first, and then let people access the entire poem. It definitely plays with your expectations. Thanks for the comment.

      Reply
  8. I loved it! Thank you so much for sharing. The video is great. Haunting words, great poem.

    Reply
    • Cody McCullough

       /  June 4, 2013

      I’m glad you loved it. It is a bit haunting, but also thought provoking. Thanks for the comment.

      Reply
  9. Poignant hesitation, then ethics prompts choice. Succinct.

    Reply
    • Cody McCullough

       /  June 8, 2013

      Good observations. Thanks for the comment.

      Reply
  10. jalal michael sabbagh.http://gravatar.com/jmsabbagh86@gmail.com

     /  June 6, 2013

    Brilliant poet his thoughts reflect the reality .We are travelers through the time through our feelings and through our memories..Thank you for liking my post ( Loving My Woman /my wife.) Wishing you the best.jalal.

    Reply
    • Cody McCullough

       /  June 8, 2013

      I wish you the best too. Thank you for liking my post as well.

      Reply
  11. an awesome writer and visual artist! you are the complete package. 🙂

    i find that i am writing more and more through my dark side, which is not bad, it just seems that it is the side which needs to express itself. i am really not that self loathing, though it may seem to be the case. your writing, like so many others, is full of elements – artistic, eloquent – as if they jumped right out of a published text. i find this so incredibly cool. if you do not mind me asking, do you plan your pieces? how you structure or do you sit with a pen and paper and write. I am curious. 🙂

    Reply
    • Cody McCullough

       /  June 23, 2013

      You bring up some interesting questions. In today’s post, I talk about my writing process a great deal. Basically, I come up with an idea then I try to be as true to that idea as possible. For some reason I can’t get the whole objectivity piece of my journalism training out of my head. Objectivity, though, can never be attained. Its only a matter of how objective you can be. Of course, in poetry objectivity isn’t always a good thing. That’s why you have to let the idea be king. With regard to the dark side, you are right about it being the side that desires to express itself. I found that to be very true in my writing. In a sense, though, I seek to put the past to rest in my poetry. Because I don’t have enough projects going already, I have actually begun a new collection of poetry that focuses on positive themes. I think its going to be good. I haven’t progressed very far with it yet, but I do have a couple of great pieces already. It should be interesting to see where this writing thing takes me. At the very least, it gives me the opportunity to work through things in my mind. That alone, makes it worthwhile. Thank you for your comment.

      Reply
  12. Bee

     /  June 28, 2013

    Thank you for finding my blog and leading me to your

    Reply

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