The Place Where I Write: Joseph Spece

A proper spot to sit and write—or think toward writing—is a green chair. I have a green chair set by a window, and, living in the woods, I should find it right; I should sit in this chair and stretch long scripts across a parchment page. The tapers are lit now.

I arrange quiet corners straightaway when I visit a place. Two summers ago in Dennis, I had a corner attended by salt air; in Stowe, a corner that looked onto a snow field. Like my green chair, they were beautifully apt, and kept empty. Instead of quill and linen, my drafts are increasingly set in ball-point and napkin. In traffic.

Something in my writer’s act fights construal: the tapers are best lit in the head. Is it saccharine to say I’ve got autumn in mind, and summer, and decks, and taiga when the muse demands it?—it’s a bastard saccharine, believe me, since the labor of deconstructing corners looms at the end of every weekend. I gnash teeth at those writers who retire to a room and emerge with a living ream, or have a writing “season,” a writing “hour.” They have a focus I cannot match, or a muse (again) with better sense.

Yet there is a degree of comfort, I suppose, knowing the Pacific is only a mood away.

Since the place I write is alternately neighbor to whisky, ditch, and dinner table, I’ve given up crafting corners for practical purpose; my hope is that mind has mirror enough to set them in storage, summon them when the art requires.

Joseph Spece has earned fellowships from the Poetry Foundation and the MacDowell Colony, and is a graduate of Columbia University. His first book of poems, Roads, is forthcoming in March. Joseph’s poem “Pilgrim, memory and sea are boundless” was published in the November/December 2012 issue of Orion.


  1. “the Pacific is only a mood away.”

    Yes, art has no “room”, but makes—hews, axes, spirits—the room of its own happening.

    Spece here, it seems, is one of those rare ones.

Commenting on this item is closed.