Details of the Day: July 30

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– Flowers bought 12 days ago are still in bloom

– Toast with peanut butter and honey for breakfast

– Berries, always

– Inexplicable honey everywhere

– Overcast with England-like drizzle

– Considered many documentaries, landed on Tiny

– Videochatted with five-year-old nephew and learned many things about many sharks

– He wants to pet a basking shark so bad because they are “completely harmless”

– Considered many nail polishes, landed on “tart deco”

– Reading Lucy Ives’ Orange Roses

 

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Writing Blog Tour

Alright! Kate Litterer invited me to post as part of the Writing Blog Tour. If you haven’t done so already, you should check out Kate’s post, where she talks about her Ghosty Boo poem, which sounds like the shit. Here goes:

    1.What am I working on?

 

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Right now I’m pretty all over the place. I am currently editing a manuscript that will be published in the winter. You can check out a long poem from that manuscript here. I also have another book-length poem manuscript on the back burner that I haven’t worked on since December. Then I have two chapbooks I’m trying to get ready to send around, a long poem/poem series in the works, another series/long poem I just started and another thing I’m researching for.

I know, I know! I should focus. But the thing is, my brain is pulling in a lot of different directions and I’m letting it because I’m hoping something new and exciting can come from one or more of these little forays. Plus, I just moved across the country, am between jobs and haven’t figured out a new writing schedule for myself, so I’m doing the best I can! Jeez!

I’ll try to say a little (very little) about each of these different things. 1-The first manuscript is called The Bicycle Year—you can check out more information about that here. 2-The second (back burner) manuscript is currently untitled, but takes on questions of science in a manner similar to Saint Exupéry’s in The Little Prince, using multiple voices and modes throughout. 3. Chapbook manuscripts: one called White Twilight Object and another called Married Life. Maybe that’s all I’ll say here. 4. Long poem/ series: “Apple Hill Farm”—a return to prose poems for me; a strange world on a strange farm. 5. New long poem/series: titled “If I ruled the zoo.” I am imagining that maybe this and “Apple Hill Farm” could exist as some sort of split-side chapbook. And finally, 6. I’m researching epidemics and contagion narratives in the hopes of poems coming from that. Who knows?

Also, if you haven’t read The Little Prince in a while, read it.  Just. Read it.

  1. How does my work differ from others of its genre?  

I’m not sure how my work differs from others’ poetry. I struggle, often, to say what my work does, whereas I can see that clearly with others.’ In all honesty, I maintain a sort of willful ignorance about my own work until I’ve finished/it’s published and out there. If I get onto myself—if I know what I’m doing—I tend to fuck it all up. I never want to be too smart for my own good—or for my poems to read that way—and so I run the other way. I will say that I try to write things that make me feel unsure and even physically uncomfortable because then I know, at least, that the writing will differ from my own previous work.

  1. Why do I write what I do?

I write what feels necessary to me. I don’t know that that’s a good answer. I write the things that feel juicy. Usually when writing I get this very distinct physical sensation in my chest that let’s me know things are going well. If I can’t find that, I stop writing what I’m writing. I don’t know what that feeling is, but if anyone does, please don’t tell me.

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(It feels a little like this, but inside your chest)

  1. How does your writing process work?

I cycle in and out of writing processes. As soon as I get too comfortable with something, I start to cheat and it stops working. For the past two academic years, I have gotten up at six every morning to write, and that worked well for me for a time and then felt a little forced. I’ve fallen out of that for the summer and don’t know whether or not I’ll go back in the fall. Maybe it will feel fresh and new again. Right now I’ve been using reading to fuel my excitement for writing, and I’ve been allowing myself to work in an unstructured way to try and accommodate the many different paths my writing is trying to take right now. Honestly, more often that not, I don’t write as often or for as long as I would like. But I’m actively practicing being okay with that. I’m just working on sitting in my chair.

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(When I sit in my chair, I get to see these guys. Note that my succulents are as of yet still alive.)

Welp, that’s about it. Next up on the Writing Blog Tour:

Alexis Orgera at alexisorgera.com & Tyler Gobble at tylergobble.com

Possum Got Me

This morning I nicked my ankle shaving for the first time in a very long time. I slept horribly last night; I dreamed several times of my grandmother’s house and once, just before waking, that Beyonce and Jay-Z took me to their home in the Hamptons and their daughter, aged 10 or so (played by Quvenzhane Wallis) kept chewing up and spitting out tortilla chips on these white steps in the garden. To be fair, I’ve never been to the Hamptons but I have read The Great Gatsby, so my picture of the whole thing could be off.

I digress.

I was tired and that is likely why I nicked my ankle. Which made me look, of course, to my other ankle, where I have a small scar from where the possum got me.

To be clear, I was never attacked by a possum. But I did, once, after seeing a possum in my front yard one night and becoming so terrified, decide to shower and—still shaken—cut myself while shaving. This is no serious scar, but it is visible and on the larger side as shaving cuts are concerned, and whenever I see it I genuinely think that is where the possum got me. And then I have to retell myself the real story. Or at least, part of the real story.

I wish the real story ended there. I like that story. That quippy—I forget that I was not bitten/scratched/mauled by a possum sometimes—story. But the real story is twice as long, because, in freshman year of high school, a drama teacher I liked very much told me the exact same story, as it had happened to her.

[SIDE NOTE: I only lasted a few months in drama before I staged some stubborn protest against the jackass main drama teacher, Mr M. ADDITIONAL SIDE NOTE: When Mr. M retired, a friend who had stayed in drama, KZ, told another friend, KB, and I that Mr. M had moved to a farm on the west coast. For about a week, KB kept asking people if they’d heard Mr. M had died, because she had understood “moved to a farm on the west coast” as a euphemism. Because drama teachers are like cats?]

In some drama icebreaker, we were all asked to tell a story that we like to tell and the teacher told us her endearing story about the possum scar. And I liked it. I liked her. BUT I DID NOT JUST TAKE HER STORY. I did two years later see a possum in my yard and become genuinely terrified. And I did, after seeing that possum, cut myself shaving.

As an adult I ask myself if I cut myself shaving on purpose after seeing the possum. If maybe I was a little overly shaky. Or if maybe, I didn’t really need to shave my legs that night, but thought, oh what the hell? I don’t really know. I certainly didn’t think, mid-possum encounter, well my lucky stars, a possum! Now all I have to do is shave those legs! I do know that I wanted that story and then I acquired it as my own.

In my case this has been pretty harmless. I get to tell the story as though it happened to me, because it did, in fact, happen to me. But story snatching can get very complicated, appropriating. Maybe sometimes it is dangerous. I know this, and yet I feel like that type of criminal nearly every time I write, and often times when I listen to people. If I like a story, I want to make it mine. If I like a line, I remember it, to steal it. Occupational hazard? Or am I just a jerk?

While I ponder that, I’ll leave you with this:
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Now just practice your fancy knife skills, and you, too, can have a possum scar!

I grew up Catholic, so I’ll christen this

It’s 2014 and while I have been encouraged to start a blog for my writing over the years I often said things like, “what is a domain?” [Actual text with Gale Thompson this week: GALE: I recommend finding a good wordpress layout, not a dumb one. ME: I don’t know what’s dumb.] But, Kate Litterer asked me to do this really cool Writing Blog Tour and since “That sounds great but I don’t have a blog” was an embarrassing answer, I got my shit together and started one. And honestly, after all the laying-out, etc. (which was “easy” the way some people say Ikea is easy or jerks say volleyball is easy) I don’t know what the hell to write first. So, I’m going to copy something I wrote for the H_NGM_N tumblr a couple of years ago, part of their Notes to a Young Poet series. I’ve just moved across the country (from shore to mountains) and am trying to settle back into good writing habits, so I could use my own advice now. But before we get to that, make sure you check out Kate Litterer’s contribution to The Writing Blog tour, due out on her blog sometime this week. Alright, here goes:

NOTES TO A YOUNG POET

Forget where you end and your poems start. Confuse your work with your wellbeing. Need words like actual nourishment. Read to be sated. Find poems that are friends with your poems and then be friends with the people who wrote those poems, even if those people are dead. Wallpaper your heart and your brain with poems.

Sometimes you will dislike the things you make. When you and your poems are the same, that can hurt. Let it hurt. Make another.

Often you are wrong. Be wrong. Make another.

Sometimes you will realize someone already said it. Make another.

Today you are in love with poetry and tomorrow you will want to be in love with poetry. Keep wanting to love poetry and you will keep loving it. Read every book on your shelf and then look at the books on your friends’ shelves and ask them nicely to borrow them. There are too many things to read and you are getting older every day! Don’t panic! Just read!

Sometimes you will feel like you’ll never do it right again. Make another.

When you do it right, that will be enough to go on. Write your heart and brain and spleen and then read them out loud to your friends in bars. Use your senses like collection baskets. Find everything that makes you happy beautiful nauseous funny miserable forgotten etc. etc.

You must risk admitting the things you think.

You must risk believing the things you think.