Sunday, February 5, 2017

As Glass Poetry Press' release of "Self-Portrait as Hildegard of Bingen" nears, I find myself once again considering a blog.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

two years later

giving some thought to posting here once again...every once in a while...

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

These last two or three weeks I've been putting together a chapbook manuscript for a submission that's due soon.  Many of the poems in it had their beginnings during my December 30/30 Project experience with Tupelo Press.  And so, I've been going deeper into what that experience held, and still holds, for me as I've gone about revisions, listened for the order the poems want, and waited for the title to show itself.  The manuscript is resting now.  In a few days I'll read it once more and click "submit".

As I think about the 30/30 experience as I write this, I realize that writing a poem a day and putting it before others in first draft form has taken me into the heart of an exquisite vulnerability.  For me, now more so than ever, the act of writing begins with seeing---no pen, no paper, no laptop, no jottings on scraps of paper, and when I'm most attentive, no thought of words. When I open my notebook, my intention is to trust the memory my body holds of that experience of "seeing"---a child playing, a plate of food, a disturbing image of violence, the ice garden on the window in the back room, the blue, white and shadows of a cold, raw day like today---and then put the first words to paper.  No concern for form or craft at this point, just getting what I remember of what I saw on the page.

I do like calling this an exquisite vulnerability.  It is a way of going about my writing that opens me to what's around me with the controls off.  I sometimes wonder if it's actually not quite so "mystical"  a moment, and just a matter of getting old.  Either way, I'm happy.  And I'm writing more poems that ever before.


Sunday, January 5, 2014

Tupelo Honey

Cocooned between
empty hive frames

and life given over
to this shiver
of a moment

what you love

This 19 word poem is one of my favorites written for Tupelo Press' 30/30 Project during December.  I wrote it close to the end of the month, taking images from older poems that didn't quite make it on their own.  (Ironically, two of those poems were recently accepted with three others for publication later this month in AEQAI's column "Art For A Better World"  I wrote it out of some reflection on what writing a poem a day was doing to me.

In order to get good Tupelo honey, a bee colony is stripped of all its stored nectar just as white blooms begin to appear on the Tupelo tree.  The keeper then gives the bees clean boxes with combs in which to deposit the fresh Tupelo nectar.  When the Tupelo honey production is complete, it must be removed before it can become mixed with other nectar varieties.  Timing is critical, and years of experience are required to produce quality Tupelo honey.

For me, writing a poem a day for 30 days and this process for producing a fine, pure honey have some things in common.  Starting the day with a blank notebook page and a pen was for the most part freeing.  I knew I wasn't writing something ready for submission for publication in the usual sense; I had merely agreed to share a first draft with a larger group than usual.  And as the month wore on, the quality of these drafts improved-- at least for the most part. Now I have the work of looking carefully at each one, deciding which will sweeten with more crafting, which have images worth keeping for use another time, which can just be released---totally removed from the hive.

Giving myself over to this process, trusting it even on the days I felt totally "stuck", has grounded me as a poet.  It's only recently that I've begun to call myself "poet" and to say that my work is writing.  After this month, I find that I really mean it when I say "I cannot not write".  

And it is with gratitude for Jeffrey Levine's vision and generosity, the gentle guidance through the month from Kirsten Miles, the daily attentiveness to the poems by Marie Gauthier, the careful attention to the fundraising aspect of the project by Sarah Williams, the support from friends and family, and the bottomless patience from the love of my life and partner, that I walk away from this experience knowing that it cannot be repeated and will not be forgotten. It is a sweetness that will be laced through everything that I write.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Three days into the new year, the 30/30 Project with Tupelo Press finished, and I continue to draft a poem daily.  Granted, it's only been three days, yet this is a practice that settled for me during December.  We'll see where it goes in the days ahead.

I'll be ready in a few days to share some of my reflection on this experience.  For now, I'm still savoring the first courses, just getting started on dessert.