Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What I'm Researching- Feral Children

Researching is my favorite part of writing. It doesn't feel the best (like the actual writing or giving a reading does) but it's the most fun, least painful part of the process. Right now I'm reading about feral children. I'm currently working through Feral Children and Clever Animals by Douglas Keith Candland. It's much more philosophical/psychological than I care to be on the topoic but it is a nice summary of some feral children stories and some smart animal stories.

I also read The True Story of Kaspar Hauser by Catherine Lucy Wilhelmina Powlett Cleveland (Duchess of Cleveland). her father kept Hauser before he was killed and she attempts to clear the father's name. I love researching old, strange topics via Google Books- all these great, long lost tomes written in often, radically different times. I got interested in this topic by reading Bram Stoker's (yep, that one) Famous Imposters a collection of tales about people who pass, often as lost members of royal families. I love Stoker and love that he wrote this book. What is everyone in Dracula but an impostor- the fear is not being able to recognize an impostor and believing that s/he is really who he or she claims to be. Sane. Buying real estate. Sitting on a park bench. No one in Dracula is ever really doing what they claim to be doing and everyone is slightly frigthened they will be discovered. Secret loves, agendas, and stories crowd the narrative.

Anyway, feral children are now knocking on the door of Stay and I'm very excited about letting them in. Poking about in old stories, taking notes, and beginning to see what takes shape, what sticks together, what voice starts to emerge is a blast. I wish I could spend more time doing it. So far, I'm interested in the set-up of the children's identities- The (Animal) Boy/Girl of (Location) and am currently stuck on  the idea of The Bear-Girl of Fermanagh, although it was actually a sheep-boy who lived in Ireland and the Bear-Girl was from somewhere in Germany.

I'm not sure who is going to have the voice in the poem. In this manuscript I'm interested in sort of glimpsing the folks with a sidelong glance. Chang/Eng get talked about by a sailor who brings them to the States and then by a woman who spots them at a fair. I'm not sure if the feral child will get that same treatment. I miss having the big voices of people direct like I did in Boyishly, but I'm liking this sideways version of the stories too.

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