The piercing light of Mark Strand

http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/1070/the-art-of-poetry-no-77-mark-strand

I read this interview with Mark Strand to jumpstart my writing day today. I believe that the poets, as Strand alludes to in the article, who are able to create their own “other worlds” through poetry, bringing luscious mystery to light (as Strand does) have a deep understanding of their own poetic process and their own theories about why poetry matters and poetry’s place in the world, or lack of place.

Strand’s process sounds similar to my own, but my own understanding of this process, my own relationship with the intangibles of art, music, poetry, my own steadfast groundedness in nonfiction and prose and this concrete world, diminishes my ability to shine such bold light. This is something I will continue to work toward…mystery yet absolute clarity at the same time.

Work Was Done

In the tense of President George W.– Work was done around here today. I selected several poems and zapped them to the Cincinnati Review for a poetry contest. “Geography,” “Demise,” “Enlightenment,” “Burning Day,” “After Moving (Re-titled “Oklahoma Territory”), “Whitman’s America,” and “Water.”

 

Editing poems is tedious work!

Judging the Beauty Pagaent

It’s “crunch time” around here. In the next four days I must select 15 poems to be dissected and hopefully, like a beautiful mosaic, glued back together as stronger versions of themselves during my summer residency at Ashland. The important thing is to select poems which have some “wiggle room”– the ability to change and grow. Much of what I write feels very finished after the first draft. The writing isn’t great yet, but like my personality, it ineffably is what it is, and no amount of tweaking fundamentally changes anything.

I am thinking of starting a nonfiction piece entitled “How to Get Anyone Besides Your Husband Who is At This Moment Terrified of You to Take You Seriously During Menopause.”

Yes. Good luck with that. Truthfully, The Change has not even started for me, but at 50, I am at that age where no matter what I do and say…that is the overriding assumption. Works great unless you are attempting to accomplish something outside of yourself like publishing a book of poetry and earning a MFA degree. We all know poetry is never written outside of one’s true self.  I am just finding that for 50 years,  I have been parading around as a fictional character…no wonder success hasn’t followed me like a bloodhound!

It seems, even in my inner circle of friends and family, I have attracted a bunch of wing-clippers. (That sounds so menopausal, doesn’t it?) Perhaps more accurately I have focused too intently on being the wind beneath everyone else’s wings. I take responsibility for this. After all, I trained them. I do believe we lay little bread crumbs of instructions (nonverbal and verbal, in thought and action) which teach others how we want to be treated while they are on their merry ways to us. Some of us know we deserve more, but at the same time, feel that we don’t.

A little at a time, I am feeling more secure in who I really am. I know I have a voice and that I have always had one. I am beginning to believe if I find the right audience, my voice will make a difference and will be heard. I can’t spend all of my time keeping other people in the air only to be told when I exhale that I am a Debbie Downer. I am excited to develop through Ashland University, a group of support persons who take the writing of poetry as seriously as I do.  Now I must begin to select the 15 beauties who will make this trip with me.

Hello Summer

I don’t consider myself a writer during the summer months. I consider myself a popsicle-eating, sun-bathing, tennis-watching Mom during the summer. I also don’t consider myself a cook or house-cleaner in the summer, which bothers my husband much more than the not-considering-myself-a-writer thing. This summer, however, with my summer residency at Ashland University looming, I have to somehow get myself motivated.

 

I have to select my poems for workshop during summer residency. Deadline: yesterday.

I have to start writing again. Something tells me that my popsicle-eating persona isn’t going to make much of an impression upon my Pulitzer-prize- nominated- poetry- mentor at Ashland.

As if God knew I needed some external motivation, at just the right moment I recently learned that three of my poems will appear in the July issue of Relief Journal.

Nothing makes my grape-stained popsicle lips curve up at the ends like notice of publication. I am sticky with gratitude.