Today is February 24th. It is 72 degrees and muggy, and there are flying insects swarming and dancing above my front yard. This is not the kind of winter day that inspires a poem. It inspires a head scratch. It’s just plain weird. Got me grasping at my roots…
My bones’ wrappings rendered worthless
and the chill goes all the way through.
I marvel that my blood doesn’t thicken
and slow in my very veins.
But here it is December
and the air is as it should be:
stinging and cracking.
The Indian Summer, another typical Carolina autumn,
has abandoned us just of late –
stayed right up through Thanksgiving.
My fingers are blue.
Thank God for Mammaw’s quilt.
I like to renovate and redecorate, so welcome to the new space. I have moved some things around here and also put some things on my website, which I hope you will visit. I changed the name of this blog to “Talking to Myself” because, honestly, I do that all the time. For those of you who previously have been eavesdropping, let’s review: I was toying with the idea of trying to develop a “virtual poetry group,” but after talking to some other folks and taking into consideration my other commitments and goals, I had to let the idea die. It was a nice service with some lovely flowers …
Something strange happened to me last April, during Poetry Month, which brings me to this next bit.
After taking a hiatus from the act of submitting my poetry for consideration for publication, I am back in the “Po Biz,” or, as I like to call it, the “Mostly No Biz.” Just kidding. Not really.
Look, “no” is a huge part of what poets do, and I am all right with that aspect of writing. With poetry – and forgive me if you’ve heard me say this to myself before – I take rejection as an invitation to revise. I read and re-read and re-read the poor little poems that come back to me, unwanted. Sometimes, I readily accept that invitation to revise, feeling embarrassed that I sent my poem out into the big world with its clothes on wrong side out. And sometimes, after I read and re-read and re-read, I think my perfectly appropriately dressed poem just needs to find the right adopted home. Continue reading
Hello, blogosphere. Sorry for the extended absence. There hasn’t been much of a response to my virtual writing workshop, but I am hopeful that some folks are just waiting to see what the final proposal will look like. I myself am waiting to see what Diaspora will look like, so, here we are.
When last I left you, I was preparing to send my only child off to college. She seems to be faring well – the usual adjustment bumps and bruises. I wish I could say the same for yours truly. Honestly, I wish I could say anything for yours truly with some degree of certainty, but I cannot. I have managed to keep myself extremely busy, and when I’m not busy, I’m sleeping. Uh-oh. I expressed this whack-a-doodle state of affairs to a good friend and fellow writer yesterday, and her advice to me was, “Take some time. Sit with this, and just let yourself feel what you feel.” Of course! Insert smack to the forehead here. I confessed to her that I see the wisdom of such a course of action, and probably just needed somebody to tell me to take it!
As poet Jennifer K. Sweeney and I explored in an interview I did of her a few years ago [Main Street Rag, Spring 2007], a poet doesn’t so much “move on” from painful things as “move through” them.* Frankly, we often move through them when the rest of you cannot bear to do so, and we do it because you cannot bear to do so. We hew the rough underbrush of the path, and hope that you will follow because we know you will feel better if you do. We know so because we feel better for having cut the trail; and, we are also readers, so we also feel better when we follow a painful path that someone else mapped first. Such knowledge of this process, however, did not help me see that I was running away from my own feelings about this personal milestone. It took someone else articulating it to make me realize what I was (am) doing.
I just saw a quote from Walt Disney on a friend’s Facebook page: The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.
So much wisdom is so simple. Simple, but not easy. My last post here was over 2 months ago! That sounds so much longer than it seems to me; so much has happened in those 2 months, that chunk of past time is like a blur. The “doing” part of my life has had very little to “do” with writing, and more to do with being a parent helping a daughter prepare for college. Her departure is now just a little over a week away.
Not surprisingly, my focus has begun to shift back to writing, to the “plan” for achieving “the goals” I have set for myself. Certainly, step 1 is to “begin doing.”
To that end, I am considering launching a new site, and it’s an endeavor that has been over ten years in the making. Let me explain how a new site might help me (and you) begin doing …
I happen to live in an area that is rife with writers. These writers are not only talented, but are generous with their time, their insights, and their knowledge. As one of these talented writers once said to me, “None of us do this work alone.” When I first realized what a wealth of talent and resources existed around me, I began to explore the idea of what I labeled a “Writers’ Energy Exchange.”
In my mind’s eye, it was a physical location where writers could meet informally to work and to assist one another. Most of us have trusted groups to which we belong, and to whom we can take drafts of poems or whatever we are writing and get some good feedback. My two poetry groups have been essential for me in my work. However, I have always thought it would be great to have that kind of feedback on a more spontaneous basis. “Workshopping” someone else’s stuff is such a two-way street: when I am given the opportunity to review someone else’s work, even in draft form, invariably I am inspired to work harder and better.
The last of today’s devices from Packard’s The Poet’s Dictionary: A Handbook of Prosody and Poetic Devices
Tone: The accumulated effect of style, coloration, and texture. Like atmosphere in a short story or like mood in symphonic music, tone in poetry is the result of particular choices which affect the reader’s overall feeling toward a poem.
One of those choices is “context.” If a poem is part of a collection of poems, the poems often work together to set a tone.
A few years ago, I started working on a group of poems based on the concept of self-portraiture. Each poem was titled “Self Portrait: [here I would name the speaker of the poem]. It was a fun exercise. I wrote what I thought were credible (if not true) assessments of myself through that person’s eyes. I tried to pick people who know me well, and also people who only know me in a certain context (for example, “The Doctor”).
I am going to share with you one of these self-portrait poems because, by itself, its tone is entirely left up to the reader. Where I placed it in the collection, however, would set the tone for the reader; do you agree? Thanks for reading! Continue reading