friday roundup on saturday: the prairie dog at my desk, nouns that are verbs, and if that mockingbird don’t sing

mockingbirds (with snake!?) from wikimedia

mockingbirds (with snake!?) from wikimedia

Reader, it has been a week. Yesterday was busy, so no roundup; but this morning I pulled out my notebook to see what I’ve been working on and thinking about this week. The answer appeared to be… not much. Let me introduce you to:

the prairie dog at my desk  By the looks of things, my brain has been taken over by a prairie dog. I keep popping up here, then there, then away over there — working on this and that, but not much of anything. In my notebook, there are a few scraps of language scribbled down, a couple of morning writes, a few lists of words. Enter Spiteful Gillian who would like to know who I think I am calling myself a poet when this is all the work I did this week. BUT I remind myself although there is no notebook evidence of this: I also spent my time this week caring for a sick boy, and reading many poems of po-friends (really stunning poems by the way!), and considering mini-manuscripts.

Sometimes I think I blog partly to remind myself of things, and right now I’d like to remind myself (and you) that it’s all the work. Prepping for subs, working with fellow poets, reading, (not sure how I can make a direct link between caring for a sick boy and poetry — but there’s that old how-to-find-the-right-balance issue cropping up again) — these are all the work of a poet. Spiteful Gillian can go play with the prairie dogs. I did poet-work this week, after all.

Whatever your life’s work is, Reader, I encourage you to give yourself credit for all of it.

nouns that are verbs  And speaking of working with other poets, I was talking with a po-friend this week and she reminded me of something I already knew but which had faded from my consciousness: there is some real punch in using the verb form of words that are, for the most part, used as nouns. This would be a great wordbank to have. I’m making a note to myself to build just such a list, which would be a great tool to have on hand while drafting and while revising.

and if that mockingbird don’t sing  Reader, I’ve been re-re-re-re-reading The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. I think it’s my favorite novel of all time. There is so much poetry in Kingsolver’s prose… that’s part of why I love this book so much. Also, the story is told through the voices of the female members of the family that’s in the center of the novel’s action. The use of persona — one of my favorite forms of literature, poetry or otherwise.

But I digress. My point here was to say that, at a certain point in the novel, the lullaby “Hush, Little Baby” comes up. You know — the one with the mockingbird and the diamond ring and all that. As I read, I made a note to myself (on the sticky note I always use as a bookmark so that I can make notes to myself as I read): Hush Little Baby — cool lullaby to write a poem about.

The very next morning, I happened upon Angie Macri’s poem, “Carat, Cut, Color, Clarity,” in the Baltimore Review. (Coincidence? I think not.) This poem morphs “Hush Little Baby” into a small but powerful meditation on broken love. Go read it, and while you’re there you simply must also go read Sally Rosen Kindred’s poem, “At The Altar of My 5th Year,” another stunner in my book.

Reader, I hope your weekend is off to a great start. Thanks, as always, for reading.

9 thoughts on “friday roundup on saturday: the prairie dog at my desk, nouns that are verbs, and if that mockingbird don’t sing

  1. I’ve been having a scattered (prairie-dog-head) week, too (and I spent some time hiding in a hole, I think.) I’m glad to read your notes & see we did some reading in common, as well!

  2. It’s all work.
    Might have this verb/noun list for you… let me check (if we ever go back to school from snow daze…)
    The Poisonwood Bible… ah… well worth the multi- read! I find something new and beautiful each time. It is one of very few I find I WANT to re-read. I recently re-read “Their Eyes Were Watching God”. This was definitely wasted on me in college!
    Power on, friend!

    • You, too! Writing down “Their Eyes Were Watching God” on my to-read list. I love going back to the same book years later… there’s always something new because I’m not the same person I was the last time I read it. xoxo

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