Ice House and Other Poems

Sam Cremin, Colby College


The process of writing this collection of poems has improved my ability to understand the reader's perspective on my work. I realize now that the efforts I used to be proud of were not actually poems but images in search of an idea. As a result. I've begun to subordinate my search for the spectacular association to such conceras as continuity of scale. uniformity of diction, and word economy. My understanding of closure and centering has improved. In an effort to make clear my own impulses in the poem I've tried to restrain my wild associations. The poems lance thought glorious and unshackled now seem ragged and diffuse. This change has resulted partly from a change in model. Beginning this year I was strongly under the influence of Galway Kinnell and James Dickey. However. as the months progressed other poets became significant. The most dominant influences on my writing have been the work of Phillip Levine, Thomas Transtromer, Bill Knott, David St. John. Larry Levis. Pablo Neruda, and most recently, Yannis Ritsos. As I became sensitive to the dynamics of their work the flaws in my earlier models came clear. In trying to incorporate the poetics of these different writers into my own work I discovered certain difficulties. Before writing I had to wrestle longer with my own feelings. To get a genuine sense of centering required that I understand my own impulses more completely. I would often find that in the process of revising the original poem would dissipate into a a completely different structure. The difficulty in looking back over my work is that each breakthrough I've made has required the destruction of my earlier aesthetic. What is exciting is that I've made a lot of breakthroughs.