Reader, have you been watching or listening to the debates? I have not. The reason is that I get too wrapped up in emotion while watching and then I can’t sleep at night because I’m trying to solve all the world’s problems in my head — the first of which is that elections have become show business purchased by rich people. I’ve tried to tune in on the radio, but after a few minutes, I always reach the point where I can’t stand listening to one more word. Also, the pundits providing the play-by-play always seem to mention the 2000 election, over which I’m still nursing my broken heart. Actually, I’m not over the 2004 election yet either. Oh, dear. I think we’d better move on to poetry… and some other stuff, before I get mired.
learning new seasons Yesterday it was cool and cloudy all day, and it even rained a bit. Today, cool and cloudy again. Just like last year, I’m wondering: Is this autumn? Having moved away from a place where the four seasons are strikingly different, I find it harder to know what season we’re in. I’ve also noticed that I have a hard time placing my memories on my mental map of a year. Before our move, I could call up an image of a memory and find cues about the season — I was wearing boots and I remember having to shovel to get out of the driveway, or, it was so humid my hair curled (believe me, it takes a lot of humidity to get my hair to curl). Then in was easier to place the memory on the calendar. Without as many seasonal cues, it’s harder for me to remember when something happened: It was sunny. For 320 days. Even remembering what fruit was in season (another one of my favorite clues) doesn’t help because the seasons are all different out here, and some fruits have two growing seasons. I’m curious about what, if any, mental map of a year will emerge for me in California.
I’ve also been thinking about the seasons of a writing life. Last year at this time, I was busy drafting the Mail Order Bride poems. I remember that those drafts came to me slowly, word by word, under a title that had arrived whole. As the Mail Order Bride poems rushed out of my pen, I really set all other writing work aside in order to work on those poems. Part of me thinks doing so is a natural response to the energies present in the moment; other parts of me feel like: No! You have to keep doing the other stuff, too — reading, revising, submitting! Lately, it’s been revising that seems most urgent, but I’m afraid to leave off generating new work. How do you think of the seasons of your creative life, and how do you respond to the different intensities of one creative activity or another? I’m curious to know.
perspectives on line My Monday writing group recently read and discussed the essay “Line and Room” by Marianne Boruch from her essay collection In the Blue Pharmacy. Can I just say I LOVE having people to discuss such things with!? Anyway, in keeping with our theme of gem-hunting this week, I thought I’d share a few gems from the essay:
- The word line comes from the Latin, linea, meaning ‘linen.’
- She quotes Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren: a sentence is a unit of sense but the line is a unit of attention.” The Mondays and I agreed that society values sense, and art values attention.
- “Line (is) a still, then, against life’s dizzying momentum which, at heart, is the lyric impulse anyway, to stop time… .”
- She compares end-stopped lines to DC electricity, and enjambment to AC.
- The enjambed line “moves in two directions, relentlessly across then cutting down to surprise or deflect or underscore” (bonus craft tip in those last six words: three reasons to use enjambment).
- She discusses the important of the silence and space at the end of the line, which she likens to a moment of taking back for an instant what was just said.
- She quotes Nicolaides, who says something along the lines of: there are no lines; there is only “the place where the figure ceases.”
That last one is my favorite. Anyway, it’s a great essay — I don’t think it’s available online, couldn’t find it anywhere or else I’d link to it. I’m looking forward to reading more of the essays in Boruch’s collection.
The Smoke Last night at my other writing group — the one where we workshop poems — I brought a poem about fire. Well, it was kind of about fire, and also about motherhood, as we all know those subjects go hand in hand (ha, ha). One of the other poets brought me a poem about fire to read — a chance to consider another poet’s way of writing about it. So, yeah, I read the poem this morning and decided to retract forever my own poem about fire. Never mind. I didn’t mean it. There’s no reason for me to do this because it’s already been done. WAY better than I could ever do it. Looked for the poem online to link to here and, whaddayaknow, it was published by Linebreak. Have I mentioned how much I love Linebreak? Anyway, the poem is called “The Smoke” by Bruce Snider, from his most recent collection Paradise, Indiana, which I have not read but have heard is stellar. Go read the poem here — you’ll be shocked and enraptured by all the things the smoke did.
Happy Friday, and thanks as always for reading!