Sunday, December 30, 2012

I was young when I left home-- Bob Dylan

Sent my third manuscript to a publisher. Suspect it will be rejected, but you never know. I will continue to work on it and send it out. It may take years, but I might be pleasantly surprised. I sent SEVEN out three times. I am lucky. I am blessed. I think the actual process of writing matters. It helps me survive. Lots of people say this, but some despise such psycho-babble. I will return to Denver on the 5th.

Largely, poetry, the writing of it is insignificant. There are more important things in life. Of late, I feel past  trauma has left me somewhat throwing myself into writing, despite the reality of obscurity and isolation. Regrets over what can't be changed regarding the past personal issues need to be ignored, and this moment now is what matters. It's all we have. Maybe that's in part why I write here, to flesh things out, to move beyond mere talk about writing.

Nietzsche at one point of his writing career was frustrated with his publisher. He felt that there was no promotion of his first books, and that it was not distributed to bookstores, yet later, he simply says, "...Namely, one simply does not want my literature and I-- may no longer afford the luxury of print."  I think this is a fear of many writers, at least it's a fear of mine. Overall, we struggle in isolation, in loneliness. I recognize too still, that many who speak of community are nowhere to be found when difficulty comes in one's writing career. Everybody loves a winner. Nietzsche in some ways was deemed a loser. He quit his professorship and lived isolated and poor in the mountains with poor health. He was at odds with his colleagues. His love life was problematic. Yes, he broke down at the end, and one has to wonder about this. So much to speculate about it. But in the end, his works are revered and read by many long after his death. He went against the grain. He challenged the conformist thinking of the past duality of good and evil. He pronounced that God was dead. He was bold, nervy and obsessed.

Finally, I think it is okay to question the status quo of "community," and to challenge conformist ideas of what it means to be part of a community, which in itself is a vague concept. Smaller, more localized communities seem more practical to me. Workshops and genuine meetings about the work over coffee seem much more rewarding than trying to fit into the murkier world of national "affiliations" which are considered to be allied and supportive. For the most part, they are not. Friends and people in proximity are more likely to spur the writing on with encouragement and that ever so elusive faith. Publishers and editors and the relationships we build with them seem so much more important than the mysterious community. Yes, communities that are "in person" are more real. Networking is mandatory, but it can be of genuine interest and a shared love of literature. I have written reviews and I feel this is helpful and communal, yet there is still that safe distancing that propels us to write.

Kierkegaard supported the individual. He said often "the crowd is untruth." For some reason, I sense this is correct, despite everything else that's currently going on in poetry. This is one reason, I selected to have no blurbs on my next book. So much is about proximity, and this in and of itself leads to disparities in what's called po-biz, but somehow looking at Nietzsche and Kierkegaard helps.

A friend saw that I'd been reading Nietzsche and said laughingly, "I hear reading him messes people up."

Friday, December 28, 2012

Wow. Tonight, after a real major flop of communication regarding a reading in my hometown, I am thinking about how difficult it is to write poetry. To be a writer of any kind is a difficult road.  I've often thought too-big a part of  poetry these days is about where you've gone to school and or who you know, but lately, I am thinking about how communities are built oftentimes through our mutual isolation and loneliness as writers.

El Paso. Wow. What a love-hate relationship I have with you! So often I want to move back and live here on the border with its dust-bowl days, but then I return and the lack of organization and potential poverty turn me off to living here. I miss my family terribly, but sense I am better off staying in Denver, despite the snow and cold.

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.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Today I spent time proofreading SEVEN and will send a few changes to my editor soon. I also sent some poems to magazines. Sigh. The difficulty of doing so is getting harder the older I get. Seriously. But I will keep believing!! Yup. I need to work harder on the poems. Just keep revising. Just keep going. One foot in front of the other. One document in front of the other. One line in front of the other. One poem in front of the other. Will send some more out after I type final edits on SEVEN. It's quite long. It came out to 118 pages, of which about 93, I believe are text. Yay! This surprised me. It's hefty. So, I need to knock these edits out of the way and continue working on poems for the third collection. Crazy into poetry these days. It helps that I am not working. I some days drain myself revising, and yet the work seems so clunky at times. Much work ahead.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

At home relaxing in my mother's house. Trying a little self-promotion on facebook and it sometimes makes me uneasy, even queasy. Anyone from El Paso's lower east side knows that bragging isn't a cool thing, but alas this is the corporate, capitalistic way to "success." Ugh. What is success anyways? A child of the eighties, the "me" generation, I was immersed in the cult of success, and here I am at 47, soon to be 48, quite "unsuccessful" in terms of income, prestige and power. I feel lucky. I wish we could eliminate this need to succeed at every turn. Freedom, it seems may come when we let go these foolish notions of success. It's difficult when we are feeding wounded psyches through this need to be fulfilled by external forces, rather than being fulfilled within ourselves as we are.

This missing core, the damaged self, seems to want to pump itself up with acceptance and even praise from others. We must, in the end, praise and celebrate ourselves. There is this notion I think that people should behave certain ways online and in public, but the fact is there are very damaged people in this world. Recently people have been hyper-critical of a poet, a Pulitzer Prize winning poet too. They use words like "paranoid" and "unstable" to describe him and when people seem to sympathize with him, I understand why Nietzsche despised pity. They say most poets have been hurt or damaged in some way, and I think poetry by its very nature is about a person's need to have a voice, to be heard, and nowhere does that spring forth more than from a difficult and alienating childhood. I sense have a lot in common with this despised and now pitied poet.

Secretively, I cheer him on at times because I understand the rage, the feeling of outsider, the frustration with not being heard. And more importantly, I agree poetry has all too often become an insider's game, an academics game, a game of who-knows-who, but today I have hope! Hope because I sense most everyone is feeling the same way no matter the amount of their "success." Even a Pulitzer Prize winner gets fed-up with the goings on in Po-biz. I think most poets feel themselves outsiders to a degree. I think people
are focused so heavily on the mental illness of said poet, they cannot see the forest for the trees. It's true that unseemly behavior is uncool, but there is indeed, in my opinion a whole lot of whopping truth about what this man said. This is of course true in part because I am not in academia, and have never really been "accepted" and this stirs those feelings of shame and alienation.

This need to have a voice springs forth from having been silenced, and this too can happen culturally. Being of mixed-heritage makes it even worse I think because one can not fit in either culture or ethnicity. One is always at odds with "success" and "fitting-in". This is why large groups of Latinos band together in poetry land. It is necessary. And at times, unseemly behavior seems necessary, but of course diplomacy is what's needed? Sometimes I think diplomacy has Latinos getting crumbs from the literary world. Not only crumbs, but stale crumbs. When the likes of big name poets only know one Latino name, we have a problem.

Overall, my wandering through the field of self-promotion has me still feeling awkward, foolish etc. But one must press forth and shout out one's "successes" from the rooftops? I'm not so sure. I have to think further on this. There still, it seems to me, seems something unseemly about the whole thing.

I am very lucky to have a supportive editor and a supportive press at this point in my life. It was very much needed. Now, I will look through the mock-up of the book and press forward. All is well. I am very blessed when this book comes out, and I have to  not let the fears of invisibility overrun myself. Be still. Meditate on the good things you have in life I tell myself. There is so much to be thankful for here and now. In my hometown the weather is phenomenal. Now, I think it's time to get to work.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

After being sleepy all day, I'm wide awake. Yesterday I received unsolicited advice on what to do with the third collection I am working on these days. Due to my own self-doubt, I'm inclined to listen to advice too often. I think this time, I will trust my gut. I listened to too many voices re: SEVEN early on, and had several versions of the manuscript floating around in my head with different sections, different titles. Not good in my opinion. Trust yourself. I don't mind a second set of eyes at all, but having many eyes on a manuscript doesn't seem like such a good thing anymore. One guy who called himself an "editor" took forever to get back to me with his edits, and constantly questioned what I was doing with the title and the sections. I'm so glad I finally came to a point I could just ignore him. No doubt he will be highly critical of the book. Fact is, he rarely publishes and has an ego rooted in a high I.Q. Something like way over 170. Too much confidence coupled with insecurity. Thing is he insults everybody. He was homeless too because he couldn't get along with anyone including his bosses and landlords. Seriously, a whole string of them. So much for a high I.Q.

Anyways, I want to trust my process and my instincts, though it is difficult these days to remain confident. This can become difficult even when one is lavished with praise. Work seems key. When I am working on something hard, I can feel it improving, but it isn't good to work something to death or work the life out of something due to insecurity. This, I have hopefully learned.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Here's an early Dylan song. A favorite line about the rain needing no applause and "lay down the song you strum." Woke up startled this morning. Will try to work on some poetry today among other tasks I have to do including looking carefully at a few poems in SEVEN. It is with the book designer now. Also I have to gather some emails for interview questions I will be asking soon.

I sold a piece at the art show and am tickled. I bought some chalk pastels and will try working with those over the holidays. I've been using oil pastels and have improved significantly from last year due to someone who has taken mercy on my soul and begun to teach me techniques.

I've ordered two books by Noam Chomsky that I'm looking forward to reading. I've listened to a number of videos on Youtube and find them interesting, but I suspect he's a better writer than speaker.


Still reading Nietzsche and enjoying it. It's still a trip, kind of reads like a thriller rooted in defiance. I like it.

Yet here, "'What do you matter? You are not yet humble enough for me. Humility has the thickest skin.' I dwell at the foot of my height: how high my summits are no one has yet told me. But I know my valleys well.
... 'Do you not know who is most needed by all? He who commands great things. To do great things is difficult: but the more difficult task is to command great things. This is the most unforgivable thing in you: you have great power and you will not rule.' And I answered: 'I lack the lion's voice for command.' Then again as a whispering it spoke to me. 'It is the stillest words that bring the storm. Thoughts come on doves' feet guide the world.'O Zarathustra, you will go as a shadow of that which is to come: thus you will command and in commanding go first.'-- And I answered: 'I am ashamed.' Then again voicelessly it spoke to me: 'You must yet become a child without shame.'"


When one is raised in shame, a shame that overcasts everything, one clings to beauty and creativity to overcome it. Shame creates envy and much more. Shame casts its shadow deep into the bones. This is why Nietzsche is so interesting to me.


Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Tickled that Obama has won re-election. This gives me hope that the majority of Americans are reasonable and are not behind policies and rhetoric that is,(on the far right), bigoted and full of blame. I was weary of Obama being referred to as "Hussein" Obama among other things. I was weary of the hate towards food stamp recipients, disability recipients, women, minorities, immigrants, veterans and so forth. Mostly, I'm thankful Romney and gang won't touch my social security, turn it into a voucher program or tax it. Today I am proud of my working class background and family! Despite the fact that some are Republican out of fear and out of what I consider to be misplaced rage and internalized racism,  I love my family!

This song is a remake of John Lennon's "Working Class Hero," and I think Green day did a good job with it.

I'm in a funk about my writing lately. Lots of insecurities, fears and uncertainty, but as they say, uncertainty is a good place to be as a poet.

I've been reading Nietzsche's THUS SPOKE ZARATHUSTRA, and secretly loving it!!! It is unnerving, even though all this time has passed since he wrote it. That the far right clings to "God" as much as it clings to the things stated above, Nietzsche's Zarathustra so far appeals to my sense of self-confidence, passion and
daring! I know from reading the introduction that Zarathustra at the end, returns to his cave and solitude, so I'm not sure where this path of wild preaching on this character's part is going, but I am loving it. Nietzsche is often quoted out of context, but I have truly been thrilled by much of what Zarathustra has to say. His commentary on poets and scholars made me laugh last night. He essentially challenged the dichotomy of good and evil, Some of it is vervy and makes me feel awkward. For instance, he writes, "I do not want to be mixed up an confused with these preachers of equality. For justice speaks thus to me. ' Men are not equal.' And neither should they become so!"..."Life wants to build itself up into the heights with columns and stairs: it wants to look into the far distance and out towards joyful beauties-- therefore it needs height, it needs steps and conflict among the steps and the climbers! Life wants to climb and in climbing overcome itself."..."Thus asssured and beautiful let us also be enemies, my friends! Divinely will we strive against one another!-- And later..."But I live in my own light, I drink into myself again the flames that break forth from me."

Zarathustra seems to be saying that we must be creators, "And he who must be a creator of good and evil: truly, he must first be a destroyer and break values...Let us speak of this, you wisest men, even if it be bad. To be silent is worse, all suppressed truths become poisonous."

"But it is precisely to the hero that beauty is the hardest thing of all. Beauty is unattainable by all violent wills."

As for poets, Zarathustra dislikes them even though he considers himself one. Poetry, he acknowledges much the same way Keats did, is essentially feminine. He goes so far as to call it the "eternal-feminine in us." But he writes of the poets:

"I became weary of the poets, of the old and of the new: to me they are all superficial and shallow seas. They have not thought deeply enough: therefore their feeling did not touch bottom. Some lust and some boredom: these have as yet been their best reflection. All the jingling of their harps is to me the breathing and coughing of ghosts; what have they known so far of the fervor of tones!-- They are also not pure enough for me: they all muddy their waters to make them seem deep. And they would like to prove themselves reconcilers: but to me they are mediators and meddlers, and half-and-half and impure! Ah, I cast my net into their sea and meant to catch good fish, but I always drew out the head of some old god. Thus the sea gave the hungry a stone. And they themselves may well have come from the sea. ...They have learned vanity too from the sea: is not the sea the peacock of peacocks?"

In any case, this has all been fodder for thought. It feels good to be reading carefully again, feeling interested in what I read, too. I also have been reading AMBITION AND SURVIVAL by Christian Wiman and am finding much there which gets me thinking. It seems so far, Wiman is an advocate for form, traditional forms, and yes, the control and ambition one needs to write in form has always impressed me, but I fear I am tone-deaf, maybe a bit lazy. Okay, well a LOT lazy!!! hahaha.

Well, I've gone on to long and nobody is listening, but I'm having a ball!!! LOL

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Cat Stevens. "Oh Very Young"-- I love this song!

Today, I sent a number of poems to magazines, which proves difficult in that I'm not sure where my new work fits. In any case, I'm working it. I will send more out later this week.

I've narrowed it down to four poems/excerpts for the back cover of the book, as I will not be having any blurbs!!! Why?? The poetry world is full of who-knows-who, and I really am tired of it, too.

But in the end, I have to enjoy the writing. Regarding placing a poem or excerpt on the back cover, I'm excited about from a poem in the collection titled "Dawn." We'll see if that one is a go, or the three others I've decided might work. One poem is titled "Universal Kiss," and I'm thinking it might work too.

In any case, sending work out today was a humbling experience. This lack of confidence is something I must continually work on, and I think it comes about due to past traumas. Anger too at favoritism and who-knows-who communal out-casting bothers me for these same reasons. But I speak into the ether to myself mostly. I have to remain constant with the writing, with the healing and with the faith. I have to believe I have some talent and work hard. I have to have faith that I can somehow be of help to other people. I have to believe that the b.s. that goes on doesn't have to affect me!!! I think in time, I am getting there. Despite the frustration, I've found some peace in just writing and healing.


Thursday, October 04, 2012

The Colorado Leadership Academy sponsored by the Colorado Mental Wellness was terrific. I learned a lot about self advocacy and advocacy for peers. I learned leadership is about service rather than command. I learned active listening helps us communicate, and that conflict isn't something to be ignored, but rather handled in a loving, concerned manner. I learned one can be a leader without a title, by helping others live. It was a great time, and I was honored to be side by side with so many advocates, peer-specialists, and wonderfully giving individuals who work behind the scene and help their peers learn to advocate for themselves in what is often a maze of mental health agencies. My goal is to help fight the stigma that many people face in this country about mental illness. Recovery is possible. Recovery is real!! As someone said, recovery is about the soul. Loved it, just loved it. I may volunteer for Mental Health of America and/or the Jefferson Center for Mental Health.  I very much admire those who step forward and fight stigma and stereotyping of those who have been diagnosed with a mental illness. For the first time, I told my story to an audience, and listened to other stories which were moving, and a great lesson in recovery and wellness. At 47, I consider myself a beginner, a novice wanting to learn and grow. The struggle with my illness came full force in 2008. When I was younger, late twenties, I suffered from illness and cast doctors off due to my own self-stigma. In 2008, I faced years of not being in treatment, flashbacks and paranoia. I was afraid. Due to the steps I've taken in recovery, I am feeling more focused, more ready to begin helping others. Recovery is a process of learning to love oneself. You can't love others if you can't love yourself. My forthcoming collection deals with this slow journey of recovery, yet it is in many ways sparse without some of the harsher details. Yet, it is somewhat shocking, but I've had good feedback and editing from strong women, which I feel is my audience. Maybe my book can help other survivors of childhood sexual abuse and trauma heal or begin the journey of healing. I hope so.

Leadership is about building trust, and in my life, many in authority or wielding power have broken trust. I have due to PTSD among other things, a very, very bad reaction to people who wield authority in this manner. Leaders encourage people and develop relationships of trust!!! We studied many different styles of leadership, and one I dislike is Autocratic, where one leader makes all the decisions. Bad idea. People are talking about Mitt Romney being aggressive in the debate, but aggression does not make a true leader. I like best that leaders work with a team, not alone. I am looking for opportunities to give back since I have been helped so much. I am very excited and motivated to make a difference. Poetry is something I will continue to do as it too helped me survive. I recently got some interview questions on facebook that I haven't yet answered, and one question is, "What is poetry?"  Poetry, it seems to me, is similar to the journey of recovery. It's a way of seeing ourselves and the world around us with clarity. I lived in a fog until 2008. I was 43. My first collection was written when I was truly disconnected from myself and others. Yet the act of writing helped bring me out of myself, helped me survive!!! Every difficulty takes us closer to where we were meant to be, and I've grown tremendously the last four years. I've had to accept I have a disability, which is no easy matter. But that puts me in a position to help others who are going through the same struggles. Similarly, poetry can do the same thing. I guess that's partly why I still write using the first person.  I spent too many years being ashamed of my SELF. I therefore want to embrace it, and collect all the broken pieces and create some kind of mosaic, some kind of mixed-media art music with words and breaths and silences. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Interesting, this version of "My Sweet Lord" is on old vinyl.

I was accepted to the Colorado Leadership Academy with the Mental Wellness Network of Colorado. We are reading You Don't Need a Title to be a Leader by Mark Sanborn. It's been helpful to read as I want to become a peer-specialist in the mental health field, yet it may be some time before that can happen, if ever. The book shows me that one need not have the title peer-specialist to be of service to others. I'm very excited to attend the academy next week and may share here some of the things I learn.

I've been slowly revising the third collection I've put together, and I am getting poems in files to send out to magazines. I need to revise SEVEN one more time here this weekend, and I want to work on some art work for the arts-coop and the Jefferson Center for Mental Health art calendar. Last year I won 100.00. It would be nice to win some cash again, but I enjoy doing the artwork. I have one piece I want to finish up by Friday.

Despite the grouchy lady at the municipal court today, I am in a good mood.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

I don't think I will be going to AWP after all in March. I think it is in my best interest not to spend the money needed to attend. I believe I can party just as successfully here in Denver, although I will miss seeing a good friend who may not be going now either. I will be reading possibly in Taos and Albuquerque, and of course here in Denver. I have a very fixed income and since my press won't be there in 2013, I probably won't be.

The reading for 3: A Taos Press at the Mercury Cafe last evening was phenomenal. I am grateful to be associated with such talented and lovely people. The press is wonderful. It treats its writers/poets with respect, kindness and true generosity. There is a lot of lip service to those words in poetry publishing today. This second process of publishing with a new small press has been more fulfilling. Foremost, I have felt respected and praised as a poet and this has meant a lot to me. My desires for the book's final have been taken very seriously. My input counts a lot! Similarly, the editors have helped me edit the book at my own pace. There's been no rushing things. I think it will show when the book comes out in 2013. Overall, I have just been happier with this press and these wonderful editors. Notre Dame may be a bigger or older press, but I can assure you that the process has been much more pleasant in that I feel very respected and very appreciated. I am thankful for the Andres Montoya Poetry Prize and what Francisco has built, but this is turning out to be a better experience. Maybe I've grown and have learned to speak up more than I used to do. Also, the first book was the inaugural prize and things were really just getting ironed out. I hope I'll be this fortunate later down the line, if there is a line, ha! I think there will be as I am currently working pretty diligently on a third manuscript. It certainly helps not to be teaching 5 classes!!

That said, I think it's important for Latinas, maybe especially Chicanas to recognize that although it is in some ways still a man's publishing world we can make strides and enjoy the work. I will be interviewing five Latina poets and writers in February and will be asking how they respond to masculinity and/or machismo in the Latino/a community and what can be done about it, if they see this occurring. Personally, I think there is a big problem still in regards to male dominance and/or the patriarchy is alive and well in the Latina/Chicana publishing world and the community. It is not intentional I believe, but it is alive and well despite commentary that this is not an issue.  This question and others like it have not often been the forefront of the conversation or dialectic that goes on. It's a problem. Also, I don't feel I should have to apologize again for my feelings and feel silenced. They are based on my own experiences with Latino and Chicano men in the industry. I will say it again. It's a real problem. I am hoping doing these interviews will help. It's a small step in the right direction, and I feel it's a necessary small step.

I hope to stay engaged with words and poetry because it makes me happy to create something. I am going to enter the arts co-ops art show again this year as I won 100.00 last year. Though I am broke, I hope to buy some art supplies this week.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Planning on going to AWP in March. My book should be out by then. I'm working on some things to help promote the book or will be working on some things to promote it soon. Hopefully something will come together. We'll see.

Still working on poems in new manuscript and will be making final touch-ups on the manuscript SEVEN. I have a phenomenal editor in the publisher. Two actually. They've been utterly fantastic.

Not sure if I can get the cover I wanted as the artist is difficult to contact. I'm sure something will work out regarding it. At least I have had plenty of choices. I'm certain I will be happy with it.

The new poems are in fact getting longer. Some of them are anyways. I am actually enjoying the revision process. I hope to be able to send the newer manuscript out in February. Hopefully it won't take another seven years. I don't believe it will. It is coming together nicely. I'm much more focused.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Cracker box palace...

I've been working on some poems. Revision is hard work. But each day the poems feel better.


Today I went to the Georgetown Loop and took the train through the mountains. It was beautiful with the aspen leaves changing. Fall is here. I am blessed!!!


I've been on facebook less and went back today too much. 3 times-- hence the song above! Yikes! Oh well. It's not all of facebook, just one caca head. I probably need to defriend or hide posts or something; so much for "friend" and his crackerbox palace.

I think community can be found in the oddest places, the unexpected places, the places that people truly support one another. Canto Mundo is one such place. I encourage you to apply if you are a Latino/a poet. I think the best community can be found over a cup of coffee or ice cold beer. Some of us have graduated, so there are more slots available this time around. Go to for more information. The readings are phenomenal by both poets and faculty.

Despite the fact that canto mundo is supportive, the writing life is a lonely life, a loony life, an insane undertaking, and here is a community that is actually supportive that does have a cup of coffee or a cold beer and lively discussion. One thing I love about Canto Mundo is that everyone doesn't have to agree; there are discussions and varied ideas. It's not one hodgepodge of "what can you do for me" or "you must be subservient to me and my cronies or my dogma." Canto Mundo is a breath of fresh air. Apply!!!


My poems are all so short! A number are only five lines long. I think this has been a good change, a very good change. I'm going to play around with them until January or February. Revision is difficult for me. Sometimes I want to cut lines and words so badly, I worry nothing will be left of the poem. But everything has a way of working out in the end.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

I am very blessed and thankful that my sister's cancer is gone! Also, I am wanting to work on 3 poems today, and I'm recognizing that I need to spend less time online, especially on facebook. I need to try to stay focused, and the internet really sucks up time and energy I could be using to write and live!! I want to get back to doing some artwork, word puzzles and poetry and spending my time with friends and family. I'm just going to have to set a time limit on how long I can be online. Yesterday showed me that some of what's online is wasteful energy.

I hope I can do this. In any case, as my friend used to say, "this too shall pass." Nothing lasts forever.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Now that I let that out, I can get back to business. Granted, I should just ignore that, but it really ticked me off. In any case, I wrote put 53 poems together, and they are hanging together nicely. I feel pretty good about them too. I'm going to continue working on them.

I am still waiting to hear back from the Leadership Academy, but I should hear something within the week.


I write this blog for myself. It helps me process trauma and recovery, and I use it more as a notebook of reflections. For some reason, I think I need not explain it. I also use it to reflect on how my writing is coming along.

For seven years, I've had difficulty writing due to trauma and recovery. It's kept me pretty busy-- healing. Writing of necessity had to take a back seat. So writing here; however horribly has helped me. So when I say writing saved my life, I mean it. I wrote very little, but kept on revising and processing the trauma (amnesia or repressed memories are very real to me). It is no joking matter. It took me about four years to understand what happened to me. I really had a difficult time four years ago now, so PTSD is no laughing matter. My second collection deals with that trauma and recovery from it. There were multiple traumas but one was totally repressed until my step-father passed away. Now this third collection of poems seems more focused as I am writing them. I am not struggling to breathe, to live.

I don't think writing should have limits. Writing about the self is a complete section in the collection I am putting together. One survives trauma split in a sense. Compassion for oneself is simply not there. One can not be compassionate toward others, if one can not be compassionate to herself. This is a difficult skill to learn. People often do not recognize the damage that trauma can cause. I've posted some videos about PTSD a long time ago and am wondering if I shouldn't do so again.


Why am I still blogging? Mostly I have been working through recovery from trauma. If you don't like this I suggest you not read my blog!!!!

Secondly, some people have their pet peeves, I know I've had mine, but to constantly post them on facebook tells me you are not happy with your life. I know this because I have been unhappy and lashed out on the internet. It's what unhappy people do.

Thirdly, I did not call myself a poet until I had a collection of poems accepted for publication. If you haven't had any significant publications, NEWSFLASH, you are possibly not a poet or writer. Some of the best poets I know do not have a collection or published much, but they do not constantly whine their pet peeves about other poets and writers. They work on their poems.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Let it be...

I am thrilled with the likely cover of SEVEN, just thrilled. It feels so good to have a cover that I love!!! It is a woman standing in what appears unsettled ground (dust plumes) leaning backwards and wearing a mask. I love it because it is feminine and represents trauma to me. One wears a mask and is on unsettled ground. Though the collection moves and ends with recovery, the cover art fits the gest of what it feels like to be traumatized. My first cover was very masculine and not a good fit for the essentially feminine collection. This one just feels right, full of movement, the feminine and my sole choice. I am really excited about the book coming out. It is scheduled to come out in March 2013 but I feel things are moving quickly which is exciting.

I am spending my days finalizing the collection and other tid-bits. I need to get started typing and revising the poems in my journal.  I have over 50. The idea of typing them up individually to journals is not appealing at this time, but I will try to get on the ball with that. I am very unsure who will like the newer poems as they are somewhat disjunctive, yet the language is somewhat prosaic, but at the moment I very much like the work as it deals with trauma and the fragmented yet whole nature of things, the universe etc.

I've been walking daily around Sloan's lake with a friend which has been very good for me health wise.


My sister is fine as the cancer did not spread to her lymph nodes! I am so thankful for this.

Still waiting to hear whether or not I got accepted to the Leadership Academy. Not sure I will as there are only 20 slots open for the entire state, but I feel good I was proactive in applying.  I'd really like to become a peer-specialist, it's a goal I have set, yet I am learning that life has a way of surprising us, and we sometimes end up in a different place than we visualized.

I'm going to try to revise some poems now.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Horse to the Water...George Harrison

With the election season upon us, I am thinking politics, more so the outrage some have for politics. This outrage can come out whether one is a democrat or a republican. What I'm really interested in is the outrage itself. On the surface, it seems to be the issues at hand that cause outrage. Perhaps someone is outraged by abortion or gay marriage. Perhaps someone else is outraged by inequities in pay (the poor) or tax loops for the rich. In either case, the emotionally charged sparks that fly are something very real. My aunt for instance is outraged by Obamacare which I see as healthcare, but non-the-less the outrage she has matches another family friend that lives just outside of Austin. Some days, I too become staunch, self-assured and certain that people who don't see the way I do are simply ignorant, but the fact is, they too are outraged, self-righteous and certain they are right. I was disheartened by the recent chic-fil-a influx which I felt was rooted in hate. I am disheartened when I go camping with a bunch of people who want to vote for Romney but seem to have no clue the wars ran the deficit up. But the fact is, I respect my aunt and my brother who are both staunch conservatives. They can't help it. It is intertwined with their belief system, their belief that an all-powerful God is running the show, that the world is corrupt. There is no use arguing with either of them, in that I'm never going to change their belief in a supreme being who happens to be male and patriarchal. I'm never going to get them to change their thinking. I think history may do that, and people make history, but sheer outrage in and of itself isn't enough to do that. Think Martin Luther King and Ghandi.

When I was in my twenties and early thirties, I was often outraged. Recently I learned this is more tied to my trauma than the actual politics. How to be reasonable? How to maintain some distance, level-headed and maintain some even-keeled perspectives? Is it possible? I think of how Martin Luther King changed things. He knew rhetoric. He knew the art of persuasion. I used to teach his "Letter from Birmingham Jail," where he calls his opposition "gentlemen."  The man was in jail through the ignorance of others, yet he praised the very clergymen who were critical of his cause. This is lacking everywhere on Facebook and in larger society. I have "friends" who are conservative and hyper-religious and "friends" who are liberal in every sense of the word, but they are for the most part all "outraged."

Why all this blather about outrage? I think it's because sometimes I grow weary of outrage masked as goodness or righteousness. I grow weary of political hankering posing as poetry. When the outrage takes over completely, I grow weary. And it seems at this point in time, or at least in my tiny tiny segment of po-biz-world, outrage wins every time. It doesn't matter if someone is a terrible poet as long as they are outraged, angry, self-righteous, advocating and furious. (esp. at white people)

In some ways I have written book reviews which I shouldn't have written. There's a small segment of poets and writers, who more and more I am realizing are not the poetry "world." Small as the poetry world is, it is bigger than mere outrage. In this I am settling down, relaxing a  bit more day by day. I want my work to reflect on larger social and economic issues, but I want it to be done with a sense of Martin Luther King's generosity, for this is real generosity, not simply kissing someone's ass because they are in a position of power and influence and hating white people. Really. I did not become a poet to stay in a place of outrage. If anything, I am seeking a place of peace and forgiveness.

So in the end, forgiveness is where I need to be. I need to forgive this perception that one be constantly outraged and fighting a battle with marginalization. It's okay for me just to write, to live, to learn how to forgive, to forgive myself for writing some reviews and not writing others. Forgiveness seems a constant struggle, but in having more compassion with myself and forgiving myself, I can hopefully step out and forgive this outrage that surrounds us all at every turn.

In the end, I'm glad I write these things. It helps me come to a place of understanding and forgiveness for myself and others.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord"--

Leaning towards faith tonight! My sister is going to be fine. The lump they found in her lymph nodes is not cancer!!! I had great fear it had spread to the lymph nodes. Everything IS fine!

I've decided on three potential covers for the book and advocated for my favorite. Feeling good about this second collection. Will work hard to promote this book.

The universe has been so very kind to me of late. I've never felt so thankful, so grateful in my life.

Now I hope to work on the 50 plus new poems I have. I feel like a fire was lit today.

Many blessings!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I have been filling out an application for the 2012 Leadership Academy run by the Colorado Mental Wellness network. I am very excited about applying and will re-apply next year if necessary. It is my hope to become a peer-specialist down the line and to possibly teach a poetry/creative writing class tied to wellness and recovery. If my application is accepted Jefferson Center for mental health will sponsor me so I won't have to pay anything to attend.

I will be revising my acknowledgements page by adding specific poem titles, not just the magazines they appeared. I have to look online and in journals received to see what mags published what poem(s). I also need to look over some more photos, paintings and sculptures for the cover of my forthcoming collection. Overall I'm very excited and happier than I've been in years.

I am however worried about my sister. It's almost surreal to finally find happiness only to be so concerned about a loved one.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Currently deciding on a cover for my new collection. I think I see three things I'm feeling okay with at this time. First,a photograph a woman on a horse holding some wings-- which seems to fit with the seven sins and charities, and the lost innocence and vulnerability that comes with abuse or trauma, although I didn't much like the wings initially. Second, a painting which is a montage of objects which seem to represent various themes in the book such as the biblical stuff (much of it questioning with a slant, I'd like to think). There's a bible, a cross, medicine and a bandage which for me represent healing and the seven sins/charities. Finally there's a sculpture I like which is the figure of a woman, minus her head, or signifying her head is in the clouds. Ha!

So I'm deciding on that and rather or not I'll have blurbs. Advice from friends is going both ways. I'm leaning towards not having any blurbs. I might post something on facebook regarding this question today.


Going to get back to the writing soon after a camping trip. I've been writing drafts longhand which is a change for me. A few times I've typed stuff up and then gone to the notebook to revise and pick and choose lines which seem most compelling. I plan on re-typing them and giving them another go-round with the revisions. Feeling great these days minus some illness in my family. Trying hard to pray with sincerity though it is difficult for me to be honest.

Friday, August 10, 2012

I've often, in the past hopefully, been too concerned with what I perceive as the commodification of poetry. But today I feel free. I feel that it's not the number of books one puts out, but rather the quality that truly matters in the end. It's not the number of readings one has at universities, or how many connections one has, but rather it is the joy in the process of writing, sharing and discovering poetry that matters. I do believe! I believe it!!! Now if I can live it!!!

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Back to Cat Stevens as he helps me live. I am getting ready to read HOLDING COMPANY by Major Jackson. I'm looking forward to it.

I've written something like 52 drafts of new poems. I recognize in some ways the language is prosaic, but that's how the poems came. I think they came as a real relief after working on the emotionally difficult poems in my forthcoming collection SEVEN. I think also the new stuff is very, very fresh. Somehow it just poured out of me.  It still deals with trauma, but I think there's a strong sense of wonder for the natural world and our fragmented yet whole existence in the universe. They often swing from idea to idea, image to disjointed image. I seem to really like them, which didn't happen in the writing of SEVEN. I've struggled with writing the last seven years ironically.

The poems are coming. I needed to get through the work SEVEN because it dealt with some difficult issues regarding abuse and trauma. I wrote 3 drafts the night I found out my sister has breast cancer. I stayed up all night writing out of necessity. In any case, I feel that the writing is finally more balanced with the rest of life these days. I am walking and enjoying every day.


I suppose I still blog to very very few if any because it helps me move from plateau to plateau with the poetry. Every time I think there isn't another poem in me, something like this happens. Also I think it was a means to helping me recover. I'm still in the process of recovery and healing and poetry helps me with that a lot.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

I got some really bad news today regarding a loved one. So I am going to pray. Sent final version of manuscript today to 3: A Taos Press, which is run by the greatest editors! Seriously, I've never been so encouraged. In any case, the fragility of life is always flying in my face, and as I get older people seem to be ill with cancer or dying or dead. I don't like it. But there's not a lot we can do other than live in the moment and try to love, or no, to love. No try.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Will finish final touches on manuscript and write acknowledgments soon. Yay!  Looking forward to calling this thing a book rather than a manuscript. I've been writing a lot. A whole lot of new stuff is flowing, billowing like gray storm clouds lit with sunlight. It feels awesome!

I like this video because it shows Dylan's contradictions or contraries. Plus it mentions Juarez. Yes, El Paso and Ciudad Juarez, the most appropriated places in America. It seems many claim the area while simultaneously abandoning it or worse, never having been there, much less lived there-- claim the area as theirs. I call this "the border in vogue." Maybe I'm just a little cranky tonight? I don't think so. I love Dylan and I don't see him doing that here. Maybe I'm deluded tonight! I believe William Carlos Williams made a stop in El Paso. Overall, I don't seem to like it when we appropriate the area in a way that diminishes its people. It's a real place with real people, all kinds of varied and individual people that live and breathe. They are not some border "concept" or "construct."

Much of the world lives in abject poverty--the kind I remember when I was a kid growing up near Juarez. It made an indelible mark on my psyche. We are blessed to have the luxury to write, to read, to question the things that need to be questioned.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Positive Vibrations today. I am going to read some Stephen Dunn, then I WILL revise some drafts of poems which have been sitting on my computer way too long now. No "wish," "should," or "try" as those are dis-empowering words. I am seeking some positive energy for the poetry and for life.

It's difficult at times as it's easy to focus on the past, where things went wrong and of course the blame game. Instead, this time, I'm going to buckle up and head out for a fast drive up the mountain.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Feeling pretty good after a fantastic Canto Mundo! Thanks to the wonderfully giving and nurturing Cantomundistas! I feel free back in the glorious Denver summertime! It looks like I'm being recommended as a peer-mentor or peer-specialist at the mental health center. I'm thrilled as I can do this part-time and keep my disability. I think I need this kind of shift in my life. I can possibly help other people going through what I've gone through. I may even be able to teach a writing workshop or better yet a poetry workshop! I am still waiting for my award letter from social security. I am so thankful the judge ruled in my favor. I feel light. I feel free. I feel happy! Now it seems time to start writing fresh new work! Working on the cover for my book still. Looking at a couple of photographers. I found a photo from an El Paso (Texas) photographer which I am going to advocate for with my editors. I am pleased with the ongoing collaborative discussion about the cover. Everything is going so well in my life. I feel truly blessed and am filled with gratitude. The universe has been so kind to me of late. Oh, I may be leading a panel/round-table discussion with some Latina poets in February. Wait a minute! I will be leading such a panel right before the book comes out with 3: A Taos Press.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Today I asked a mature and together 28 year old how she got to be that way and she said that it was life experience. She said she believes life experience can teach us more than books. Ouch! I have lived my life with my nose in a book, not always such a great thing! I realize now it's not a slight as I tend to personalize way too much. Again though, I had repressed trauma to the detriment of my own maturity and understanding of people and life. It's not my fault. I have to learn to rebuild trust and defer from fear.


I've been discussing the cover of my book with my editor and am very excited. I advocated for my uncle's painting, but there's a good photographer that has a woman riding on a floating horse! Ha! I haven't seen it yet but think it may persuade me. The idea does seem to go with the themes in the book. Horses again. I like talking about it as a book rather than a manuscript. The editor also knows of a good sculptor she wants me to check out for the cover. I greatly appreciate the atmosphere of discussion and mutual respect regarding what will work for the book!


I would like to go to AWP in Boston as my book will be out, but I hate to spend all that money; I'm not sure what I will do. It will be sold at AWP, so please, please pick up your copy. It is primarily about trauma and recovery-- experience--and one reason I believe still in individuality is that such trauma causes fragmentation and one lives really separated from one's true self and the world. 3: A Taos Press will have a table set up at AWP, so you can pick up your copy there! I am honored to be published with a group of very diverse and talented poets! Please check this new press out and support their efforts as they work very well and with mutual respect with their poets. When and if they open submissions, I strongly encourage this press!

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Congratulations to a Critic

To see with one's own eyes, to feel and judge without succumbing to the suggestive power of the fashion of the day, to be able to express what one has seen and felt in a trim sentence or even in a cunningly wrought word-- is that not glorious> Is it not proper subject for congratulation? -- Albert Einstein


"Only the individual can think, and thereby create new values for society, nay even set up new moral standards to which the life of the community conforms. Without creative personalities able to think and judge independently, the upward development of society is as unthinkable as the development of the individual personality without the nourishing soil of the community." -- Einstein

Thursday, July 05, 2012

I could be listening to Mozart or Enya, but I'm in a Dylan-- "Like a Rolling Stone" kinda mood. I dealt the last two days with the long arm of the federal government's bureaucracy, which sounds and acts kind of like crazy. I think though when I get my award letter I'll feel relieved. They do not make it easy in regards to communication as three people give three different answers. None-the-less, I am blessed. I am blessed. I am blessed. I am thankful. I am grateful. I even have a book coming out! Please, please try to read it.

I remember listening to Dylan when I was much younger and much angrier. I was very compelled to argue politics at the time, and now I see how much of that was due to past trauma. It can be a way of coping with and or living in denial about the losses in our lives. I would stay up all night, many a night, listening to all my Dylan albums. Yes, I'm that old, and yes, I was quite poor as a student. I saw and believed others had it easier, and still struggle with that envy or that belief that others are being favored or that so and so is biased. In the end, though, severe trauma leads us to be on edge at all times. This hypervigilance is tiring though, and sooner or later it all overflows. We are filled to the brim with fear. And fear can kill you.

But the fact is I still love Bob Dylan. I understand the rage of this song all too well. We move through it like ghosts, unaware of past events, and now that I am half-aware of the events in my childhood, I feel more free, less angry. I am aware that my politics are mine, and that freedom and peace are more important than being right regarding a political stance.

Friday, June 29, 2012

I received a "fully favorable" decision from the judge regarding my social security claim. Thank god. I was not doing very well waiting, so thank god the decision came fast. I'm going to rest now.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Worried incessantly about the hearing, how the judge will rule. Ugh. Can't stand it. I am terribly on edge. In any case, Frederick Seidel's poetry sure helps me get out of that worry! He's saucy. Right now, he's my favorite poet. He's independently wealthy and lives in New York. So I rest my case about the privilege of writing poetry. In any case, I most like THE COSMOS POEMS. I would love to type one up and post it here, but I can't. His poems blow me away. Stunning. Absolutely stunning work.

In any case, my sister was able to fix the manuscript pagination and formatting. Thank God! I will try to revise a poem called "Radiance" that is the second poem toward the end now tonight. I had totally given up on the editing process and further revisions, but my sister came to the rescue. I am terrible with WORD. In any case, it's 100 degrees in Denver, and I'm roasting.

I have played out the entire hearing in my head over and over and am terrified that I said something totally stupid which will negate my case. My attorney is real good and wrote a letter to the judge after the fact arguing with a vocational expert who said I could leap tall buildings in a single bound. Ugh. I just hope the judge takes the evidence from my doctor more seriously than the government paid vocational specialist or anything stupid I may have said. Basically I am VERY nervous around such authority figures, and I ramble. And ramble I did. Ugh. I will be devastated if I lose my claim.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

I have no idea how the hearing went, but I have a plan, and the book is a go. Woo Hoo!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Here's a photo of my grandparents in 1960. My grandfather died when I was two. My aunt says I share some of the features of my grandmother. I miss her.

My social security hearing is tomorrow.

All is well. Everything "is" okay.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Finished edits tonight! I did manage to mess up page numbers after removing a section break, but overall I'm excited for it to be published with 3: A Taos Press in 2013.

I hope to do some serious reading in the upcoming week.

Denver is beautiful in the summer! Squirrels, rabbits, foxes and it's nowhere near as hot as Texas!

Overall, I feel good about my manuscript. I certainly hope people will buy and read it. I will promote it a lot, but not too much in that it's overdone and that's all one does is promote themselves. It's about the book. So don't be surprised to get an email from me when it comes into print (or 200), just kidding.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Remember listening to this song when I lived in Denton, Texas during the 90's. What skill for writing Dylan has. I think this is one of my favorite Dylan songs, though I won't post it on facebook due to my family's zealous religiosity. Is that a word? Apparently so. Hopefully they won't read this ;)

In any case, I want to clarify my earlier thoughts. Poetry is a necessity I think, or more so, utilizing the imagination is a necessity for all people. Even or possibly especially for the poor. Again, there's this view that poetry is not a luxury, yet the reality is time to write poems seems a real luxury. Yet, I have more time now that I'm poor again since I am not teaching as an adjunct, which in the end, overwhelmed me to say the least. So in some ways I am now very imaginatively rich. My greatest (flaw), my greatest (weakness) has become what will hopefully transpire into a strength. I need to get off my butt and engage in some reading and writing. I am still trying to edit and polish.

Saying the writing of poetry is a luxury seems true to me still. This is not to say that it is valueless or that poor people don't write. It's merely a product of our society not valuing the art or more so, finding it valueless in terms of cash. It's not a commodity that can be traded on the stock market. It is purely imaginative creativity, so seemingly necessary these days, but lacking economic profit for the most part.

I recognize that so many poor people on social security disability write poems. I am surrounded by a class of people who have a strong interest in writing poems, putting out paper broadsides, reading at open mics. This scene for poetry is interesting, purely in the joy that it seems to impart to its participants. Yet, I recognize that my scene, a subsidized housing scene, is quite different than that of someone in a tenure-track position. 

I think however, being educated in poetry, is often a different animal. How we are educated in the "craft" also seems significant. One can read a lot on their own too and become educated. I went to "school" for a long, long time. I struggled always with the limitations that come with being "taught" how to write. Even now I suffer from what I was "taught" in that it was often limited by professors' narrow aesthetic views. This was/is true especially when one earns a doctorate in poetry. Yet, if I wouldn't have been educated in the historic trajectories of the art, I would be somewhat blind to what it means to write poetry. Part of receiving an education in some ways is moving past such preferences. Yet, education and time effect the writing of poetry, and it therefore seems a luxury or more so a privilege. Yet I was led to read a certain "brand" of poetry. I read a great deal of modernist (imagistic) poetry and that no doubt has influenced me immensely. We learn as we go. It is most definitely a lifetime process.


This leads me to speak to the marginalization of writers of color which was recently discussed online. These statistics in my opinion ignore the heavy burden of being a female writer of color. I find often, in the pages of various magazines of late, more and more Latino men being published, yet the women still trail behind and struggle for the same kind of attention.

I don't think this is my imagination. Latina women struggle especially to have their work land in "major" or significant journals. So my next collection primarily deals with loss and recovery. It deals particularly with sexual abuse, the silencing of women, and I realize in some ways, this silencing is still an obsession I have when writing. In any case, I've gone on far too long on this blog, where what I gather, very few people actually read. So, with that I will try to focus now on editing my upcoming "book." :0 Then hopefully I can read and write more seriously and take advantage of the luxury of time. I am very blessed. But because I am a woman from Mexican ancestry along the U.S. Mexico near Ciudad Juarez (which many writers now a days seem to appropriate) I must write of this apparent marginalization that such women experience. There are few of us. 

I am often told by white men that I am not Mexican-American. I have never had a Latino/a tell me that strange thing. It is because we share a bond in this marginalization. This is why I must write about luxury when editors of major magazines feel they are being progressive and inclusive. They are not. The writing of poetry is simply a luxury and a gift which the universe sends the lucky and those born into some kind of privilege, especially when it comes to being published in traditionally well-esteemed journals. One can be poor gifted with time. A poor person though often is granted this luxury when they are gifted with some kind of safety net which provides time, but not money. Money matters. It most definitely is a luxury which often leads to extra time. I wrote my first collection in the margins. I wrote it in El Paso, Texas, land of appropriations. I had little time and it was a real struggle. Many poets are poor and they struggle. Many are disabled and minorities on these margins or borders if you will. Crossing such borders is a difficult path. Now I live in Colorado, and hopefully will be able to cross some of these barricaded, fenced borders. This is why I kind of resent it when someone unintentionally implies that I have it easy because I believe in the luxury and privilege time provides some and not others. But the fact is, marginalized women need to write and publish with those magazines and presses that seek to publish people from all cultures. This would not include places that claim there is no such thing as luxury in these matters.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Tonight I am editing my free verse poems, admiring those who write in forms. I have, hopefully, one more set of comments to go through before I am finished with SEVEN.

My grandmother passed away May 8th and I went to Texas for the funeral. This poem makes me reflect on death, to go peacefully raging seems apt. My adoptive step-father died very, very afraid. Well deserved I say. We create our own heaven or hell. Trauma blinds one to their own behaviors and fears I think. We press forward growing and learning to have compassion for ourselves. It's a difficult journey. I am mourning the many years I lived in a fog, forgetting trauma, repressing trauma, and having it come out in all the wrong ways, unknown to my self, but probably clearly seen by others. We do indeed fight our demons. And what is the purpose if any of trauma? We mourn the loss of innocence, the wounded ego fighting to learn its way to acceptance and self-compassion.

My family is radically religious, so wounded in their own traumas, it seems religion soothes their souls, which is a good thing, yet it can be an overzealous means of covering up trauma, ignoring it, seeing the world in black and white, good and evil. Yet, evil exists. Not sure how I feel about Pema Chodron's philosophy that we do away with good and evil tonight. It does seem good to move away from black and white thinking and judgment, yet the problem of evil exists. Perhaps evil is born of such wounds, and it is our choice to become a perpetrator or not. Yet, when I was living in Lethe, forgetting what had happened to me, I was so not my self, so separated from loving myself, it was difficult to love others. We fight our past, yet must move on past it. It is good to mourn though the things we've lost. Maybe then we can feel strong, find the strengths and values and creativity that our wounds helped create. I am writing these things for myself?

I am lucky that when my adoptive step-father died, I remembered. I remembered with glaring clarity, unsure where the images were coming from initially. Perhaps I need to write some prose about it as the poetry took a lot out of me.

In any case, I am still editing SEVEN and a little burned out with it as I've tinkered with it for so many years. I very much admire people who can churn out books, but apparently that wasn't my destiny for these collections.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Fear of no water later. I have to let go of all that some day. I just hope people read my second collection when it comes into print. I hope it is good. I believe it to be pretty solid at the moment.

In any case, back to editing. It is making the manuscript better, yet I am wanting to abandon the thing after this next round. This is what I am hoping for as I've been working on the poems in it since at least 2003. Most of the poems began in 2005--seven years ago. So overall, not consistently, I've worked on it for 8 or 9 years I realized. It was difficult to write as some of it is about trauma and recovery (PTSD), so I didn't write consistently at all during that time period, but I did have it in my mind often during those years. Not to mention I was in the middle of PTSD and illness in 2008, and it was very messy.

I recognize that part of what happened in 2008 was in itself being re-traumatized, since I had forgotten the violence.

My recovery from PTSD is going slowly. I still struggle with various issues surrounding it, but overall I am improving. I think overall, it's affected my ability to trust, my ability to not feel marginalized and  I am very suspicious of cliques and authority.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Back in Denver. Tonight I will watch "Big Bang Theory" then walk and hopefully write afterwards. My days are once again moving slowly, so I will work on the editing comments I am waiting to receive in the mail this time. Lots of good stuff happening.

I am a bit nervous as my Social Security Hearing is coming up on June 20th. This time I have the date right. Very worried as a Vocational Rehabilitation Expert will be there from the big government. In any case, all I can do is hope for the best. My attorney will appeal if I'm denied. Let go of the worry I say. Peace at last has found me.

I am going to try to play around with words tonight, no agenda beyond letting the subconscious out to play. I love to play. After this I will work on revising, which is a form of play in itself.

Denver, Colorado is beautiful. I am thankful to live here! The fox is running the street at night, the squirrels are out too, the wood pecker and robins are catching worms in the freshly cut grass. I confess, I am enamored by the natural world. I like a good story still too.

I've been reading AMERICAN HYBRID and thinking heavily about form, substance, abstraction and fragmentation. My work, according to a mentor is full of fragments. Sometimes I grow weary of this division in American Poetry, which this anthology says doesn't exist, but it does when you send work out to a press and they, one reader, complains that they are tired of Chicano/a lit doing the same old thing, working the same narratives etc It grows tiring. This person at that particular press clearly didn't read my manuscript very carefully. I suspect a self-appointed avant-garde calling everybody not in their circle "mainstream." This is not to say I don't admire some of the work immensely, but it is indeed a  matter of "labeling." And labels are dangerous; they cause divisions. The create disharmony. They make people feel insulted. And nobody can make me feel insulted unless I let them. So I advocate for the work I am doing. I feel it is worthy. I am worthy. I must if only here, in the margins, speak.

In the end, I find this "New" American poetry a bit pompous at times, its advocates assume too much about "others" as well. They feel often ostracized and separated, but they too have chosen to call a certain brand of work, which is heavily in academia, as superior. It is in some ways highly intellectual which is a good thing, and many lines are simply stunning and fascinating to read, yet when I read an essay in the BOSTON REVIEW by Marjorie Perloff which lumps minorities into one pot, I feel a bit disillusioned. Her idea of this pot is that is loosely narrative with no attention to linguistic play, no attention to what's new in terms of science, anthropology, politics and so forth.  I want to stand up for the work of Latino/as and its immense diversity.

I also criticize this division in Latino/a poetry, where self-appointed avant-garde people continuously complain about other Chicano/as. There's a place for all of our work, and grouping those who "say" they are a particular label is also dangerous. I want to believe history will define what is "new" and history will separate the wheat from the chaff. Perhaps I am reading Perloff incorrectly, but I think she is sadly misinformed and hyper judgmental about the work Latino/as in particular are doing. I also think this is true of some Latinos out there. Fact is we are ALL for the most part engaged in the Post-Modern, and to simply dismiss people in large numbers isn't cool. I think many divisions that exist are also related to working-class poetries and poetries that are indeed separated by economic and geographical marginalization.

The Post-Modern moves beyond fragmentation and labeling. It is bigger than that. If anything we are all Post-Modern in our sensibilities, our true marginalization in American Poetries. There are simply too many people writing to create such divisions. And yes, I read the introduction to AMERICAN HYBRID, but the atmosphere and divisions among various readers seems pretty clear-cut to me. To assume anyone with any narrative line to a story is incapable of being experimental seems problematic. To say blanket statements like narrative is dead, experience is irrelevant, metaphor is problematic all seem too easy. Eliot said something about respecting the canon and tilting it slightly ajar. I think this is an interesting statement. Must one throw out the baby with the bathwater?

Well, my past trauma, which was severe leads me to question myself, my opinions far too much, even be hesitant to state them. My second collection addresses a lot of this. The personal or descriptive need not be non-experimental, a collection of poems need not be "either/or".  Black and white thinking is dangerous. And yes, I think there is this division in American Poetry largely from the Perloff essay and the comments on my manuscript from a reader and comments I've read. I guess I'm saying that I believe my work is also Post-Modern despite comments that it isn't.

In any case, I just wrote this and my thoughts are always subject to change. I always place this buffer as I am one individual, and yes, the idea of a single individual is being dissected and done away with, but when one experiences severe trauma, one is less likely to state that the individual is not important. Suffering is universal? In any case, I need not dwell on my feelings of marginalization. This is possibly the crux of these thoughts and feelings. In any case, back to reading AMERICAN HYBRID. Then I will watch BIG BANG THEORY, walk and write.