November WriMo, Day 18

It’s (inter)National Novel Writing Month (iNaNoWriMo), though we all know I’m not working on a novel. But neither am I willing to pass up a chance to ride the wonderful wave of creative energy rolling across the globe and through my own amazing community. (Shout-out to all the beautiful Bluegrass writers!) So I’ve given myself four very different writing activities to work on this month and have been able to make time for at least one of them each day.

Today’s activity is blogging, inspired by this article on poetry by A.E. Stallings. I may have to print it and carry it with me for those awkward moments when I’m called upon to talk about what I do. (For the record, I often cop out by talking about editing, which is only slightly less deadly to conversation than poetry.) Stallings hits all the salient points, and I love him for it.

  • Poetry is not useful, yet it is everywhere.
  • It transcends us and will outlast us all in some recorded form, though who will care?
  • Poetry is commercially non-viable and materially irrelevant, which makes it rather suspect.

Poetry arises from paradox, from the multiple meanings a word or image can hold. It’s a linguistic version of certain mathematical equations which seem to describe separate realities happening all at once.

Anyone who doubts the subversive, contradictory, and disreputable power of poetry needs only consider this year’s Nobel prize award for literature. It doesn’t explain much, but it makes a fantastic illustration. (Kinda like poetry.)

A.E. Stallings, “Why Bother with Poetry?” Times Literary Supplement Online, 7 Nov 2016,
http://www.the-tls.co.uk/articles/public/why-bother-with-poetry/.

Day 7 poem, Fall WriMo 2016

This poem formed during the wee hours this morning, in a wakeful moment between sleep cycles. The words arranged themselves as I spoke them in my mind, and I desperately hoped, as I slipped back under, that I would remember them. I’m not certain I did, but this is a fair approximation.

arborial dreams

in sleep, our fingers still curl
as if encircling a branch
and our hands clench, gripping
as though our lives
depend on it, which they did once
upon a distant ancestor

 

Work is not an excuse

In case anyone was wondering, I haven’t died or finally been committed to an asylum (though I expect both in due time.) Rather, I’ve been completely immersed in a wonderful manuscript project with a lovely client who happens to be an art historian. That has meant end notes, figures, captions, appendices, an index, and Chicago’s 16th Edition – an editor’s dream job!

For years I’ve told told everyone (myself included) that editing uses the same parts of the brain as writing, so when I’m working on an editing project I’m not able to write. I now realize that isn’t true. Although there’s a certain degree of overlap, editing uses a good deal more left-brain function than writing, which relies primarily on right-brain operations.

The upshot of this discovery is that I can no longer use work (editing) as an excuse not to work (writing). It’s surprising how liberating that feels.

Resolve

I woke this morning from sound sleep
and poetry – no words remained
in mind, only the clear knowledge
I had shaped verse as I went about
the business of the dream.

So today I wrote again
after too many weeks of letting life
and other work take up all
available space and time and energy –
but no more.

Prompted poetry: prepare

You may notice that I posted a poem last year using the same prompt. That’s because it comes from essentially the same source: the seasonal social media event known as #blogElul.

We are not quite the same people when we pass the same date on the calendar each year, and I am thankful for spiritual practices that help me contemplate and celebrate that. (And yes, I am posting this a few days behind. I’m glad you noticed!)

Road improvements

Prepare the royal highway!
Raise up the low and bring down
the high-and-mighty. Soften
curves and widen the shoulders

so no one goes off into a ditch.
Clear boulders and fence posts
from the right-of-way and plant
wildflowers and lithe

grasses to gladden the eye
and sweeten the air. Let the way
be wide, the arms of the Holy One
outstretched to receive us all.

Found poetry: Sherlock in Love

sherlock-in-love-coverWell, the summer got away from me for a while, but I’ve caught up enough to be able to show my face again. I didn’t lose too much ground with reading, but the writing declined in quality as well and quantity. (I’m sure the two are related.)

During a brief overnight retreat last weekend, I read Sena Jeter Naslund’s Sherlock in Love. Some lines from the afterword (pp. 222-3) kept trying to shape themselves into a poem, so I played around with them a little. The description of depression struck me as particularly accurate.

Light of a day

This morning when I woke up alone
in my cell, sunshine was in my eyes. I sat up
in bed and looked at the great beauty
filling the room. This is what it is
to love, I thought. Someplace the sunlight
falls on your face.

Sometimes imagination fails me: the world
is no longer continuous. A great black cap of depression
sits first on my forehead, then covers
my face, my body. As the years wear on I know
I may live in perpetual darkness. The morning sun
may lose its power.

 

Love light

This morning when I woke up alone
in my cell, sunshine was in my eyes. I sat up
in bed and looked at the great beauty
filling the room. This is what it is
to love, I thought. Someplace the sunlight
falls on your face.

 

Haberdashery

Sometimes imagination fails me: the world
is no longer continuous, and we are not
connected. A great black cap of depression sits
first on my forehead, then covers
my face, my body.

As the years wear on I know
I may live in perpetual darkness. The morning sun
may lose its power. The black cap always
waits: “Deny yourself and enter into darkness”
reads the banner twisted in its folds.

 

Here, now

Sometimes I think of the forbidden and my body
thinks the impossible. What my eye falls on, I love
to see. What the ear hears is thick
with joy. I live in this moment
as I did not before: loving
the texture of the carpet, the glowing
globe of the lamp and its light
falling on my moving hand.

Day twenty-one poem, LexPoMo 2016

LexPoMo2016aFor some reason, I completely forgot to post yesterday’s poem. The prompt was “synchronized.”

Reblogged from the Lexington Poetry Month blog.

Synchronized

like clockwork, the orange
mackerel tabby leaps on the bed,
walks on my head, and I know
it is six a.m., sure as if she’d been
wound and set the night before

Day twenty poem: LexPoMo 2016

LexPoMo2016aThe poem inspired by today’s prompt (clock wise) is a rather flippant, but I think there’s something a little dark and sad beneath the surface.

Reblogged from the Lexington Poetry Month blog.

Borrowed time comes due

she used to set
the minute hand ahead just enough
to keep her on time when she ran late

now she turns
her face to the wall, covered by both hands
to hide how much time has passed