Well. Here I am back in the Peninsula Town. There is no gathering of the poet-tribe in the P-town (indeed, people here are heard to be “monetizing” and “productizing” and “calendaring” things left and right!). There is no Dickinson Quiet Space in the P-town (but there is tree work being done on my street). There is no little house on an island with wide open days for writing poems in the P-town. There are no daily afternoon walks through a green forest in the P-town. But there are the bright faces of three children, who appear to have grown a foot each in my absence. There is Husband, and the Wee, Small House which — wee and small as it is — is home. And there is the library and the full complement of my books on their shelves, and one cannot
run away from home go on a self-designed writing residency forever. And yet….
… reality doesn’t impress me So I’ve been hiding. Fellow writers will relate to the bumps and bruises of re-entry after time devoted to quiet, creative pursuits. I’ve been coping the best I can by eating comfort foods, saying NO early and often (and also late and often), wearing my most comfortable Danskos, and by reading Kelli Russell Agodon‘s Hourglass Museum.
The quote that serves as an epigraph to the book is from Anaïs Nin:
“Reality doesn’t impress me. I only believe in intoxication, in ecstasy, and when ordinary life shackles me, I escape, one way or another.”
Enter, Reader, the Hourglass Museum.
Is it possible for a book to know someone? I feel like this book knows me. It knows about the struggle to make art in today’s world — world of useful occupations and requests for field trip chaperones and “chores / without names.” It knows about the desire to find art and beauty even amidst worry, grief, and loss. It knows that some of us — maybe all of us? — walk around in this world (where things are productized and monetized and calendar’d) holding our wounds in our hands (this image is from the poem “Mural of a Writing Residencey or The Best Part about Manet’s ‘Dead Matador’ is the Bull”).
Aside from being full of beautiful, imaginative, and cutting (in the best possible way) poems, this book has brought me comfort upon re-entry. I am grateful for it. I will likely have more to say about it at some point, but meanwhile you can buy it here.
I drag them across the page From the pages of Poetry magazine, here’s a piece by Natalie Diaz of When My Brother Was an Aztec fame. She talks about why she writes, and why particular obsessions or subjects recur in her work, particulary the subject of her brother’s mental illness and its effects on her family. Of recurring subjects, she says:
“Maybe my writing is never about my brother. Maybe it is always about me, what I don’t understand, what I fear the most.”
She says, of writing a first draft:
“I didn’t write it down to build a poem. I wrote it down because that is what I do with the things that unravel me. I drag them across a page.”
Can I get an ‘amen!’? I recommend the whole article wholeheartedly. If you don’t want to scroll up for the first link, you can find it here.
and the hour took her Yesterday, the National Book Critics Circle announced their 2013 winners. Finalists for poetry were Frank Bidart, Lucie Brock-Broido, Denise Duhamel, Bob Hicok, and Carmen Giménez Smith (details here). Frank Bidart won for Metaphysical Dog.
But I’m not here to talk about Frank Bidart (sorry, Frank). I’m here to talk about Carmen Giménez Smith — because when the list of finalists was announced and making the rounds on Facebook, I saw a few comments along the lines of “I’ve never heard of Carmen Giménez Smith.”
I’m here to make sure more people hear about Carmen Giménez Smith, a feminist poet, a Latina poet, a politically aware poet. She is also an essayist, by the way. Here’s a story on her from NBC. Here’s a list of her books. And here’s one of her poems that I particularly love.
Happy Friday, Reader. Happy weekend. And whatever you’re dragging across the page these days (literally or figuratively) I wish you well with it.