Photo courtesy of Unsplash

On "Llama Berserk Syndrome"

Dayna Patterson

As I headed for my Wednesday night writing group, I silently bemoaned the fact that I didn't have anything to write about during that evening's session. I had recently finished my MFA, and I felt tapped out. Drained. Of course I was probably just tired. Or dehydrated. There is always something to write about, right? A memory to press into, a relationship to examine, a master to mimick. In desperation, and somewhat begrudgingly, I flipped on the radio. During the 20-minute drive, I learned about llama berserk syndrome, and I decided I would try to write about it that night. What I wrote was mostly a regurgitation of what I heard on the radio, but my writing group (all hail writing groups!) helped me see connections, drawing out the heart of the piece. I've drafted and redrafted my poem, "Llama Berserk Syndrome," centering on one of my chief anxieties: how to raise vulnerable creatures in an often harsh world. With two daughters at the cusp of puberty, I look to the next decade with not a little fear and trembling, mitigated by hope that we'll both-eventually-come out the other side.

Dayna Patterson

Dayna Patterson is the author of If Mother Braids a Waterfall (Signature Books, 2020). Her creative work has appeared or is forthcoming in POETRY, AGNI, Crab Orchard Review, Hotel Amerika, Passages North, Sugar House Review, Western Humanities Review, and Zone 3. She is the founding editor in chief of Psaltery & Lyre, a former managing editor of Bellingham Review, and poetry editor for Exponent II Magazine. She is a coeditor of Dove Song: Heavenly Mother in Mormon Poetry.

Dayna Patterson contributed to North American Review, 304.1.