waiting season This time of year, I start waiting for a crisp edge in the air, for the leaves to show their true colors. I’m ready for sweaters and stew, corduroys and actual socks and shoes (as opposed to sandals). I want gunmetal grey skies and a stiff wind.
Here it is already our third autumn in the Peninsula Town(!), and I’m starting to catch the drift that in September and October we seem to get our hottest weather, and the trees are green, green, green. There is one tree I’ve noticed — it looks like some kind of sycamore — that looks like it might consider dropping its leaves, but other than that — still summer as far as the flora and temperatures are concerned.
I’m learning to see autumn in a shifting quality of light, and a joyous return to my desk for long stretches of time during the day.
back-at-my-desk season Don’t look now, but for the last three weeks I’ve been cranking away at my desk while the kids are at school; second shift starts at 2:15 when they get out. Yes, as a family we’re back to the season of digging for clean socks in the dryer and running out of T.P. And at my desk, it’s been application season — a residency application that’s finished and submitted, plus one more that I hope to have done ~October 1.
submissions season I’m also happy to report I’ve send a few packets of poems out into the world recently. The start of the fall submissions season doesn’t wait for leaves to turn. I’ve found that turning my attention to submissions is one way to break open poems for revision. Once they’re in mini-manuscripts — stout little piles of poems that play well together –, I can get a new angle on what might need to happen in one poem or another.
reading season It’s always reading season, and here’s what I’m reading (or re-reading in the case of these collections):
Malinda Markham’s Ninety-five Nights of Listening. Beautiful, spare, image-rich poems, low on narrative, high on feeling. I’m looking at how this poet intersperses her poems with questions, and what that does to the tenor of the collection as a whole.
Kathleen Flenniken’s Plume. This book just won the Washington State Book Award, a well-deserved honor IMHO. I’m looking at how this poet weaves together the personal and the political, and how naming — by which I mean using the actual names of people and places — brings an immediacy to this collection that it would lack (I think) if the poet had not named people and places specifically. An example: there is a character, Carolyn, who is clearly the speaker’s friend. Knowing this character as Carolyn rather than as ‘a friend’ or ‘my friend’ makes her feel more real and immediate to me.
Jennifer Richter’s Threshold. This book continues to be a favorite of mine, and like any good collection, opens itself up in new ways each time I read it. This time, I’m studying how the poet uses point of view to increase and decrease the psychic distance (or lack thereof) in various poems, and in various threads of the collection.
Natalie Diaz’s When My Brother Was an Aztec. The word that comes to mind is profusion. A profusion of language, an anchored chaos of words to create a world (can chaos be anchored? I’m going with Yes). Right now, I’m just immersing myself in this poet’s voice and mining words and syntax to weave into my own poems.
not drafting season, not so much Truth: I’ve not drafted any new work these last few weeks. Other seasons are primary right now. Even though I’ve learned that this is how the writing life works — a time to draft, a time to apply, a time to send out, a time to revise, a time to refrain from revising 🙂 — I still get nervous when I’m in a drafting/generative fallow period. To keep the fires stoked, I continue with short pieces of morning writing that come out of what I’m reading. Once application season is over, I’ll go back to my goal of one draft a week.
season of what else is coming up Check back here soon for an interview with poet and radio commenter Molly Fisk.
What seasons have taken hold in your world? What are you reading, thinking about, learning? Share in comments, if you like.
And now, since it’s going through my head and it’s been a while since I’ve listened to it, and maybe it’s been a while for you, too: