“The Three Visionary Girls”

Kate Falvey created “The Three Visionary Girls” from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Footprints on the Seashore” in Twice-Told Tales (1837). Please click here to read.

About the poem and the process of composing it, Kate Falvey writes:

Finding and crafting this poem from the gorgeous wordscape of my early love, Hawthorne, was a strangely fulfilling experience. I’ve never attempted the “found” form before and it’s been too many years since I’ve immersed myself in Hawthorne’s world. This was, truly, an immersive experience—and more clever minds than mine might create an interactive installation of some kind from this process.

At first, I had strict enough rules: use phrases in chronological order as I moved through the story. (And choosing a story was nostalgically engrossing.) I quickly dispensed with even this simple dictate when the poem required conjunctions, specific verb forms, pronouns, or punctuation to make even impressionistic sense.

No matter how they are strung together, the charms of Hawthorne’s words—his unmistakable voice and vision—gleam through my stanzas. Working with his words this way felt like painting with his light. It’s now hard to repress the romantic 19th century diction—which, truth to tell, I’ve always listed towards.

I’ll try “finding poems” again as a kind of meditative practice, spending quality time with beloved writers…. Maybe a Bronte mash-up next?