ORIGINS: “13 Ways of Deconstructing a Blackbird” by Scott Owens

In today’s jmww ORIGINS, Scott Owens deconstructs the origins of his poem, “13 Ways of Deconstructing a Blackbird,” found in the Spring 2012 issue of jmww.

1. I always loved Wallace Stevens’ work.

2. After reading “13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird,” I knew I would copy the idea.

3. Such imagistic, impressionistic, surrealistic, symbolistic, vortical ways of seeing.

4.Acknowledging the simultaneous presence of mythology, religion, tradition, science, linguistics and superstition in what we call memory or perception.

5. Nothing is just as it seems.

6. I saw a blackbird on the lawn, but through my fingers there were three.

7. There are 35 of them now.

8. My grandmother knew only 5 birds: blackbird, redbird, bluebird, brownbird, and canary.

9. Who could separate the preacher from vociferous blackbirds?

10. Didn’t everyone grow up with blackbirds?

11. How relative to position, experience, expectation, limitations of perception.

12. The only fixed understanding would be so broad as to admit all, exclude nothing.

13. Ironic that meaning is made only through our limitations.


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