Archive for poetry
Well, lets face it…I was a bit of a blogging failure in 2009. In fact, I’ve been a bit of a blogging failure ever since Bloggate 2007 ( I’ll explain that one later). Anyway, moving on. If Step One is admitting I have a problem, Step Two must be assigning blame. Now, now, don’t you start with your pious, “There is no one to blame but yourself” speeches… I must blame someone, if only because the blame game is so much fun, and I don’t really feel like taking the blame myself.
Actually, since it is a new year and all (although generally I don’t do the whole new year/resolution/starting over type crap, believing instead that each day is a new opportunity to try again, and commit to being a better person, whatever that may mean to you), I feel the urge to recommit myself. To creative pursuits, to blogging, finishing at least one novel, and of course, being a better person. Mostly this is due to the amazing inspiration of my love, Jenney, whose blog has me in stitches quite often, and who is generally a totally awesome woman.
I defense of, well…myself, I must say that 2009 wasn’t a complete letdown in the writing and creativity fronts. I did finish the second edit of my first novel, and began working on the third. I took a giant leap of faith, and began emailing chapters of said novel to friends for advice, critique, and tomato throwing. I also managed, somehow, to complete another 50k NaNo novel this year, in a record 10 days (a success which I owe completely to Maura for egging me on in our strange little competition, and Dan, for letting me hole myself up in the study for hours at a time while he played with Parker).
Anyway, on to 2010. The start of a new decade. I think that some goals are in order. I love lists. Lets face it, who doesn’t? The satisfaction of crossing something off of a to do list is pretty awesome. I’ve been guilty in the past of adding things I’ve already done to a to do list, just for the satisfaction of crossing it off again and feeling accomplished. Yes, I am that lame.
Ok, so lofty goals for the year
– Finish editing novel #1. Also, re title it. Hate the title. Begin shopping for an editor.
-Write at least one poem. (I wouldn’t want to overdo)
-Read every book chosen for The Book Club
-lose the rest of this darn baby weight
-Begin working on baby #2
-Keep up with my blog
-NaNo 2010…though maybe not in 10 days….
– Read every Jane Austen book (ok, so this is a cheat, since I started this in 2009 and am halfway through the books, but again, I like to know I can cross at least one thing off of a to do list.)
–Make dinner today
All right…I know that I will think of more, but for now, that ought to do. I have a plate full of things I must get working on. At the moment, I am not working on any…well except for the Jane Austen part. I am in the middle of Mansfield Park. Although it is slow going; I’ll admit, it’s no Pride and Prejudice. But it has it’s own charms, and I am enjoying it. Maura and I both want to be through with the Austen’s by the end of January (I think), which means that in a few weeks I may be crossing at least one thing off of my list. Wonderful.
Plus, in recent and stupendous news, I already made dinner- that is I threw lots of canned goods and some frozen chicken into the crock pot. Yay, I get to cross something off of my list! The year is off to a roaring start!
I have found that in the last year, year and a half, I have let my creative muscle go completely unused. I know there are several good and not so good reasons for this. However, now that I am wanting to use it again, I find myself frustrated. I tried to write a poem the other night which, honestly, kind of sucked.
Do you remember when you were in high school lit class and your teacher would just jabber on and on about Emily Dickenson and the metaphor for death in this or that poem? After class you’d congregate with your friends and roll your eyes, so wise, knowing that there was no way Dickenson really meant to infuse that poem with so much extra stuff.
Wait was that just my school?
When I went off to college, and was privileged enough to get to work with Diane Wakoski for three wonderful, if not brutal semesters of poetry writing, I was surprised to learn just how wrong I was. While I am forever grateful to Diane for teaching me that the best poetry isn’t just pretty words (in fact, quite often they are not pretty words at all), but that good poetry is like great irony- saying one thing when you are meaning something else.
The second semester I was in Diane’s class, I wrote a poem about a woman (a specific woman, if you care, although I’d rather not name names) whose daughter is only just starting to realize that there is something very wrong with her mother, even though she doesn’t know quite what that is yet. Originally, the poem was pretty much a straightforward story, descriptive and almost prosy. Really it only had a few salvageable lines in the whole thing. The problem was that I was trying to write about something using words when there really weren’t any words to explain what had happened to this young girl. At that moment in time, she didn’t really know what was wrong, or that anything was wrong. She just felt something. She saw something in her mother that tripped a kind of inner switch. No one else saw what she did at that moment, and no one else felt it. But she did and it stayed with her into adulthood. As an adult, she knew and could tell me that what was wrong was that her mother was an alcoholic, and bipolar. But that’s a story, not a poem. The poem I was trying to write was capturing that moment.
Anyway, I left that poem for a long time. Maybe four or five years. Until one day, completely randomly, I ran into a story about Persephone. Keep in mind that I had completely forgotten that the original poem existed at this point. So I was interested enough in this story to do some research (I am woefully ignorant when it comes to this mythology stuff). I started to kind of see this woman’s disorders differently. In another life, would she have ended up in the same place? Would she have chosen the life she ended up leading? I started to see her as a kind of Persephone, who was bound to Hades for the majority of her life, able to leave only for a short period of time, all because some guy forced her to eat some pomegranate seeds. Guys can be so lame.
Ok, so it isn’t exactly the same. Still, I could see how this girl’s mother would never have chosen the life she ended up leading. I knew her daughter well enough to know that her mother tried, time and again to sober up, to clean up her life. But her life was inextricably mixed up with the alcoholism. It was as if she too, had eaten the pomegranate seeds, and therefore, would never really be able to leave Hades.
So one night, when I was supposed to be sleeping, I was instead kept awake by all of these thoughts. The next day I sat down and spent hours pounding out what has become my favourite poem to date. While I am sure that will change as time goes by (and if it doesn’t, how sad would that be?).
Anyway, I wanted to write about this because poetry, and the art of poetry has been on my mind for a little while now. As I try to get back to a creative and poetic kind of mental state, it is important to remind myself that I won’t get it right the first time, or second, maybe even the third. But also, I wanted to remind myself that it is hard for a reason. If it was just pretty words on a piece of paper, anyone could do it. As it is, I am still not sure that I can do it. Knowing though, how much it takes, and how hard it is, helps. To me, the art of poetry is the ability to say something true, something important, without saying it directly, because a lot of time, the direct words are the ones that clutter up the true emotion behind the statement. They make it prosy, or over dramatic, cliched or trite. A good poem will get right at the intuition behind it, even if you don’t see it right away. So, to answer my naive 17 year old self, Yes. Emily Dickenson did indeed intend to put all that in there.
I must have stored a lot up in this lil’ head of mine because last night I could not sleep- I felt as though I was mentally blogging for hours. It was like a switch I could not flip off. This is lame (yes lame) because not only is sleep a rare and precious commodity in my life at the moment, but also because I don’t remember any of it now. Do you ever wish you had some sort of recording system in your bedroom at night? I often find myself half awake, thinking through a poem that has been nagging at me, tweaking the potential plot of a novel I wish to write, or blogging away. Of course I am much too tired to get up and write any of it down, and come morning- Poof! Gone. Or mostly gone.
As the poet who has not stopped chasing the perfect poetic moment, this is frustrating. The times when I have actually gotten my self out of bed to write whatever it is I have been mulling over, it never comes out quite right, or just the way I was thinking it. This is why I propose the development of some sort of high tech psychic recording device. As you are lulled to sleep by your internal dialogue, just press the button next to your bed and it will all be recorded for you. Of course, the implications of any kind of device that can record or read your thoughts are far to frightening to seriously contemplate. But still. I’m staking my claim in this idea. Along with my theory that new mothers should receive mainline IV’s which supply them with a constant supply of caffeine. Maybe then I wouldn’t have to support this Diet Coke habit. Think how much formula and how many diapers I could purchase with the leftover money.
As is only natural, I have the feeling I’ll be in here a lot in the next few days- I haven’t blogged since April of 2008, so there is a lot stored up in here. After a while I am sure I’ll slow down. I hope this won’t become tiresome. There are so many things I feel like I have to say. I love my son completely, but the majority of my day is spent talking to a darling 13 lb bundle of joy whose repertoire consists of “ahhh”, “baaa” and a strange noise characterized by squeals and growls which has no real phonetic counterpart. After a while, one starts to seriously long for adult conversation. And if one is me, this longing often translates into an ongoing internal monologue. Forgive me if I feel the need to share this internal monologue several times a day.
I’ve added some new blogs to my blog roll today- Kudos to Roz for getting me thinking about New Year’s Resolutions. I am not a resolution girl. I’ve always just tried to promise myself to be the best person I could, and to never stop growing and learning. That is not to say that I don’t make, set and occasionally accomplish goals for myself. It is more that new goals are constantly occurring to me, and I prefer to set my mind to working on them as they come to me. For example, after I had the baby, I decided I would try to lose the massive amounts of baby weight I gained by Parker’s first birthday. In December, after some honest self-reflection, I realized I needed to do some serious work in forgiving myself for mistakes I have made. Other things that have occurred to me recently- I’d like to read and write more poetry than I have been, and I would really like to attend some sort of creative workshop this year. We will see how that goes though. I wonder, if, in the end, it all amounts to the same thing. As evolving, growing people, don’t self evaluation and the promise to do something better/different/new amount to nothing more than a resolution to change? Does it matter what time of the year this revelation falls at?