Sunday, December 16, 2012

In 2008, PTSD finally caught up with me. I have been in recovery ever since. I think my forthcoming collection, SEVEN, from 3: A Taos Press addresses much of this journey, yet it is still a journey I am on, and it is one that may likely take a lifetime. Trauma takes hold and it is difficult to overcome. Struggles with anger in the past and anxiety in the present have shaped much of my writing life. Anxiety that I am not good enough stems really from the past, and one must let go that past and embrace the present. Anger and anxiety, it seems were on some surreal pendulum. In some ways though, this difficult journey has made me a better poet. I am often in a place of ambiguity and uncertainty, and the hyper-vigilance in my daily life has, I would like to think, helped my writing. Why? Constant awareness of one's surroundings is a good thing to have as a poet. At the same time, prior to 2008, I lived in an amnesiac state in many ways, where life was a fog. So tonight, I felt like writing about this journey. The new poems I am writing and putting into a third collection also deal with trauma and recovery. This is not to say I don't care about language, compression, music, imagery and movement. I do, but I care about trauma and how it effects people. It is devastating. It is ruinous in terms of one's relationships and one's self-image. Somehow in some small way, I want to make a difference when it comes to understanding this and helping others who are struggling with the same difficult journey. Writing is one way to do so.

Lots of talk regarding the politics of writing-- ie: marginalization, race, culture, ethnicity, oppression etc, yet the trauma I write about is violence towards children and women, and I am not doing this in some abstract distanced manner. I still think sometimes a first person poem is necessary because the content demands it. Form is to content as content is to form as someone once said. An anesthetized poetry of separateness from the self seems troublesome if one is writing about trauma. Yes, there is cultural and economic trauma in this society as well, but personalized trauma can not simply be dismissed in art.

PTSD is a serious illness, but healing and recovery are possible. I have to believe this. I am still on the road to recovery, and I see writing as a means to that recovery. These things were very uncool to various poetry professors I've had, but somehow I doubt they had ever been severely traumatized, though prozac jokes were common. So my writing, at least in SEVEN, is inherently political because it deals with trauma, both cultural and personal I believe. I do feel it is a good book despite my tendency to be hard on myself. Yes, I think it is good and this is precisely because it deals with the harsh realities of traumatic experience.

This Beethoven piece I have linked to is for me a new beginning in terms of my writing and my journey towards healing. A moving past the initial safety and mourning stages of PTSD. One never really breaks completely clean of these things, but one gradually moves on to wholeness or fulfillment with one's daily activities. I need to stop being so hard on myself, embrace my talent, yes, even say I have a talent. So many are confident, assertive, self-assured in their talk of poetics that sometimes it's kind of sickening. Young men who are not yet really published assert their opinion staunchly regarding poetics, so I'm going to go ahead and say what I have to say as well.

1 comment:

Dana Bennett said...

Sheryl, I was glad to find your blog and read this post. I like your raw honesty. Personal trauma and PTSD is difficult and serious, but you can heal from it. I know from my own experience. And I've written myself into healing. Still writing... I really look forward to SEVEN and just glad you have something in the works.