The issue of “priorities” is always a bit of a bear for me, but lately … Since May, I have lost two friends who were writers. When I say “lost,” I mean they died. They were both writers who left things unfinished. Not because they were careless in their work or undisciplined or anything else like that, but because their time here was cut tragically short. They both left behind unfinished projects they loved and longed to complete. They left behind goals they had not yet achieved. Is there a writer living who doesn’t have incomplete projects and goals? I don’t see how there could be, because writing is an ongoing process, just like living.
Importantly, here is what neither of them left behind: people in their respective lives who now are in some doubt about whether they were loved by one (or both) of these women. When it came to caring for their friends and their families, they left nothing unfinished. I want to tell you things about each of them, but I can’t bring myself to use their names simply because I cannot do either of them justice. I don’t want to disappoint the people who knew them, but I have to write something down about them. Something that must be shared. Forgive me in advance for all the ways this effort will be lacking.
I’m not going to go into how each of them died – the sheer unfairness of both their situations will overwhelm me, and I might spin off into a rant as I am wont to do. Made for cliché, right? “Life’s not fair.” Yes. Check. Knowing that life isn’t always fair, and being able to say those words out loud doesn’t make it easier to take. The phrase is a crutch for us when we don’t know what else to say. I don’t know what else to say about either of their deaths, and I refuse to resort to that phrase.
My two friends were the same in many ways, but also quite different. I don’t even know if they knew each other, but they had quite a few friends and acquaintances in common. One (let’s call her “L”) had golden hair that was always doing its own beautifully curly thing, and ice blue eyes that were like tractor beams. Continue reading
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
Those of you who know me personally, know that my monkey mind just cannot stand the thought of something incomplete. I never finished reading Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Unconsoled. The novel is 535 pages in length, and I quit with 120 pages to go. Stopped. At the time, it seemed like the right thing to do. I found the novel exhausting and frustrating, and finally reached a point at which I decided no “conclusion” was going to be satisfactory to me. Now, at that time, I was the already-exhausted mother of a toddler. I needed “beach lit,” not Ishiguro’s astonishingly complex, mysterious Sartre-like journey. Anyway, at the time, I knew quitting it was the right thing to do … and the fact that I did quit haunts me to this very day.
So here we are: I have been absent from this blog for several days, the second such period of quiet, and I had committed to myself that I would write or share a poem every day, using William Packard’s book, The Poet’s Dictionary: A Handbook of Prosody and Prose, as a jumping off point.
Well, please don’t think I have been neglecting poetry. In fact, I was too tired to write here on Sunday because of preparation for an upcoming ensemble reading that I have been asked to be part of (more on that later), and I have also been neck deep dealing with the poetry that is “family.” Enough, however! I must set this thing aright. I said there would be 30 posts in April, and 30 posts it shall be.
Watch this space …
I get nervous even typing that word. Must be a southern thing, since here we learn the Bible practically by osmosis (see Matthew 5:22). Anyway, it is April, and it is Poetry Month. And if your response, in your head because you’re too polite to say it aloud, is “That just proves that April is the cruelest month,” just let me remind you, that little ditty is poetry too. Therefore, every day this month, I am foolishly going to attempt to post a poem a day. But wait! There’s more!
One of the most frustrating things for a writer is not writing. In my case, I sometimes sit down at my desk or in one of my favorite chairs with good intentions, but the phone rings or I remember the clothes in the dryer or I decide to check out The Weather Channel … in other words, nothing happens. Why not?
For me, the reasons vary, and it depends on what I am trying to write.
I somehow ritually rid myself of the fear of putting down a terrible poem. In my world, I no longer write terrible poems – they are “drafts.” My friend Scott Douglass once said to me, “I have yet to meet the perfect poem.” Scott meets a great many poems, not only as a poet himself, but also as an editor and publisher, so I found his statement to be quite comforting. I still do. Continue reading