Working on table of contents. Whew. It's been difficult. Not sure how to remove page numbers from section titles. Every time I remove a single pg. # they all disappear. Ugh, so I'm going to send recent edits in with page numbers throughout manuscript. I added four new poems to it and feel pretty good. Here's the present breakdown of poem titles and those pesky section titles. It will most certainly piss an old ex-friend off too! Ha!
Ira, furor, rabia/paciencia
I was once the Dusty Ramble of Desert Weeds
A Contentious Woman Speaks
The Hunger of Forgetting
Kitchen of Grief
Our Throats Like Fire
Beginning and Ending
Crazy Ted Talks to the Virgin de Guadalupe
This is the Wintry Season
The Flowers Coming Soon
Cabeza de Vaca’s Horse
Smarter Than Everyone Else
Song For Being Put Away For Unsuccessful Robberies
Worked on the manuscript for 3 hours tonight. Some fantastic notes from 2 editors. I remain hopeful, but I still have a lot of work ahead of me. I think it's getting better day by day. I think I am out of my block now. They want me to add some more poems, and I am thinking of at least two I would like to add. One from Acentos online review and another which recently appeared in Pilgrimage. I will have to go through poems I've been working on to find some more, and of course revise those too! Drive to Longmont for the day tomorrow and will not be picking up anyone whose been homeless since August! Lesson learned there.
My hearing for social security, it turns out was not March 21st. I have no idea how I messed this up, but I think I got a letter that said "hearing" and "March 21st" and got confused. I am supposed to be getting a letter regarding hearing date soon. But soon from the government may not be so "soon." In any case, nervous about that, but trying hard to live in the moment.
So glad there's been no snow. No groups for the next two weeks, so I will keep myself busy with manuscript and creativity and hopefully some walking in the nice dry weather.
"Loops" by Robert Creeley from LIFE AND DEATH 1994. New Directions
The other who I'd be
never the same as me
no way to step outside and see
more than some penitence of memory--
As day fades to the dust-filled light
in the window in the back wall beyond sight
where I can feel the coming night
like an old friend who sets all to rights--
In the constrictions of this determined scribble
despite slipping thought's wobble
the painful echoing senses of trouble
I've caused others and cannot end now--
Boxed in a life too late to know other
if there was ever any other
but the fact of a lost tether
kept the other still somehow there--
. . .
To be oneself once and for all
to look through the window and see the wall
and want no more
of anything at all beyond.
Loved this poem when I read it. I've written it longhand in my journal as well. I have also enjoyed immensely EYE AGAINST EYE by Forrest Gander. Wow~ When I first read Gander I thought it was so scientific, but it is clear I wasn't paying attention. I am learning quite a bit I think in this reading. It feels so good to read again, though I do it 15 minute spurts with long breaks in between. I also wrote two new poems which feels very good. Next I read Afaa Michael Weaver and Dave Smith. Dave Smith is a poet I've admired in the past. In any case, I like two of three of the books I've been reading which is not bad. But then again, sometimes I have to come back to a book later in life before it begins to resonate. Altogether I checked out six. The library at Belmar is a very good one, plus I can always request a book from other Colorado libraries.
Editors have the manuscript and are commenting. I have some hope with the process and hope I won't again be let down. I found some typos when re-reading but will wait to make changes until I hear something back.
Still weary of po-biz hustlers with no goods, but then again I have to free myself of this envy. What's the point? So some poets seem to really suck. I'm sure they think the same of my work. All is well. Everything is ok. All will be well.
I feel good! I feel nice! Just a bit more tinkering with some poems down the line. I feel hopeful. I feel alive! I feel REAL GOOD!
Got a couple of art pads at the Dollar Tree and have been playing around sketching and drawing designs. Yes, the Dollar Tree rocks!
I am going to journal. Just checked out some books at the library as I can read now!
Eye Against Eye by Forrest Gander Life and Death by Robert Creeley The Wick of Memory by Dave Smith Multitudes by Afaa Michael Weaver Splay Anthem by Nathaniel Mackey The Voice at 3:00 a.m. by Charles Simic this connection of everyone with lungs by Luliana Spahr
I've been reading Christian Wiman's Ambition and Survival: Becoming A Poet and find myself unnerved in what is likely a breakthrough in my thinking due to how uncomfortable the book makes me. Basically he argues much contemporary poetry has no form beyond line breaks and much of it is about the self, which I suppose he feels shows a lack of awareness and intensity towards the art form. But non-the-less "form" has continually crept into everything I read of late and hear of late about writing poetry.
"Certain tactics become deadeningly familiar: the privileging of specific subject matter
("Relate to me," you can almost hear some poems cry); the primacy of personal
experience and the assumption that language can contain it; the favorite foriegn
country that becomes a sort of grab bag for subject matter; the husk of anecdote
cracked for is nut of knowledge, the serious intellectual and psychological issues
that do a soft-focus fade-out into imagistic unknowingness; the case, even pride,
with which the poet accepts such unknowingness. Much of this poetry isn't "bad,"
exactly; you wish it were worse, in face because then you could more clearly
explain to yourself why a large dose of it-- a batch of books to review, say, or
an hour spent browsing magazines--leaves you feeling not simply numb but
guilty for that numbness, as if you were the only tainted thing in a world where
everything was perfectly clear, perfectly pleased with itself. Intensity is the only
anicdote-- of language, or experience, of ambition. In the presence of that intensity
all that is merely pleasant falls away." --- Wiman
On the other hand, I feel an urgent intense need, a push and pull if you will, to write about my life, the sexual abuse I experienced and the overwhelming abuse that leads one to constant self-doubt and insecurity. So, I am not really certain how I feel about much of what he says due to my own experiences which have a "need" to be fleshed out, understood and healed. And even Wiman seems to acknowledge that many of us write to heal some wound. Yet, maybe there is something banal about the self, in all its struggles, yet much of the self writing he may be referring to has no interest in language play, and language play in and of itself seems to differ from person to person (in terms of what is appealing and musical or discordant).
Writing in traditional forms proves difficult for me, particularly metrical form. And yet Wiman's insistence that great poems have form haunts me. And of course, some argue free verse has form, which I think is true, but who was it that said, "free verse is like playing tennis with the net down?"
Also, Wiman writes a great deal about the poet's ambitions, desires and disillusionment. One quote which moved me and helped me is the one below:
A man who long ago learned to hold each act in light of the distant life
in which he would repent it, who for years anticipated and even treasured,
with a kind of half-conscious, terrible clarity, the self as it would emerge from
the wreckage it created; a man grown equanimous and wise, devoid of ambition
now but, what luck, replete with everything ambition brings-- this house,
these admirers, regret softened by renown, and this moment in which to gather
his brood of wounds around him with an almost paternal pride, as lovely elegiac light
fills the room and all the intact past stands plain as a lawn. Spare me. A man can
vanish into what he's done, give himself so utterly to his actions that he becomes not
the wise survivor crawling from the chaos of his deeds, but the smooth and empty shell
they cast up. Who would believe this hollow noise is the sea?
It feels good to read again, as I've had great difficulty doing so the past couple of years.
Anisa Onofre shared this on twitter and I find it interesting. Basically this is the same kind of argument I heard throughout graduate school while earning my doctorate. I was told by a professor that Chicano studies was not "real" literature and that I couldn't write a dissertation on it. This was in the late 90's. Tony Stafford, chair of the dept. of English while I earned an M.F.A. said the same thing in front of an entire class of ChicanoLiterature students and faculty while I was teaching at the University of Texas at El Paso, hence the ending of my poem "Chico's tacos" about the paradoxical nature of that university. The irony of the university dept. chair sitting on the border stating that kind of stance was simply shocking to me, and it still is. The fact of the matter is that I am normally silent on this type of politics because I feel we are talking at times to a brick wall, but the fact that so many good and solid books have been banned and this white educator is talking about Chicano studies as being dangerous and separatist is the same old worn out rhetoric that I heard at two Texas Universities. I understand the fear of it as there is often intense anger directed at white people which is unjust in that it is a huge blanked placed over all white people. But this is unacceptable and I have nothing but respect for Tony Diaz and his caravan. Hiding this literature is dangerous for young minds, and keeps in place the false hierarchy that Anglo-Saxon history and literature is more important than marginalized literature. There are different standards, different intentions and though most good literature does work to elaborate and delve into what it means to be human, Chicano literature can not be hidden from Chicano kids. Dagoberto Gilb's books are nothing but good literature. I had enough of that in my educational experience-- an endless unbearable silence that leads one to question their own experiences and their own value as individuals and hence even at times their own writing.
And now we have specifications that work should not be linear, that narrative is old and over-hashed and so forth. We must fight to keep our voices out there, and it is simply an exhausting fight. Much of my time has been spent questioning over-zealous and radical Chicana/o literature that is angry and polemic which excludes those who write for a literary purpose rather than a polemical purpose, but seriously, Dagoberto Gilb and Rodolfo Anaya? Literary talent matters and some Chicano writers are stellar, and they are writing just as good as any contemporary voices out there. I acknowledge that some of it is trite and appropriates the subaltern for attention and to speak for those who can't speak, but the fact is none of it should be banned.
Finally finished the edits based on two fantastic editors' comments. I am feeling more relieved than elated. V-E-R-Y thankful for the wonderful help. It is shaping up quite nicely I believe. I think this is probably just the first go-round with the edits, but the manuscript is really looking better. It feels fantastic to have done some work on it finally. I still need to check out Richard Siken's book from the library (I can in no way afford to buy poetry books at this time otherwise I would purchase it.) I love Marvin Gaye, and was actually dancing in the apartment today despite a grueling day running errands like paying taxes, applying for medicaid and other things. It is refreshing to engage in creativity and it's fun to dance.. I've been doing a lot of drawing but have been stuck on manuscript revisions for some time. I think that we will get to the knitty gritty soon. All I have to do tomorrow night is to go through it poem by poem to make sure sections are connected to the quotations I have chosen for each of the sections. My social security hearing is next Wed., but I was actually more scared of this manuscript and revising it than I was about the hearing. Ugh. This woman in my building said the attorney I have is very good as he won her case. She said she only had to go into the hearing or speak for like three minutes. I hope that's my situation too! I am so very thankful that I got through this manuscript today. Finally.
Working on the manuscript today finally. I am working on line breaks and adding details about sexual abuse which is difficult. Maybe this is why I have taken so long with it. I have been told to read Richard Siken's CRUSH to get an idea where to go via such details. Basically, this is why I think I've been blocked. I think I know what I need to do, but it proves difficult.
A beautiful day in Denver metroplex. I am staying home to work on this collection of poems. The line breaks I am making include more enjambment, and I am cutting a lot of "I's" out of it. I think it is getting better.
It feels good to work on it. Even if I do just a little bit at a time, at least I am making progress. I hadn't worked on it since Feb. 8th, almost an entire month, so one tiny step at a time I suppose. Maybe now I'll get more into the revision process and possibly try writing some new poems. It's been a difficult stretch, a long lonely stretch as I have no money to attend things like AWP. Luckily, I got to go to the symposium in Austin where Canto Mundo fellows were kind and unpretentious.