Tuesday, April 24, 2012

My second book, Seven,  should, could be out for AWP 2013 from 3: A Taos Press

I am thankful to have met my excellent editors: Andrea Watson and Madelyn Garner who have been beyond helpful. I am feeling better about the collection each day thanks to them and their encouragement.

Working on some poems in the collection still. Ironically, I worked on it for seven years. I'm more glad each day that I took as long as I did. I did some hard personal growing in those seven years. I was very busy, too busy teaching as an adjunct and wandering about unhealed and quite broken. I am thinking about seasons and impermanence, how everything changes. Now, I have been blessed with time to write, and I intend to make good use out of it, to try and go my own pace and write to my potential.

Thinking about 8 dharmas in a book called When Things Fall Apart which two people over the years have encouraged me to read. Thinking about a poet's desire for praise/fame, how we struggle to let go of envy, and how our time is fleeting. I want to look back on my life peacefully, unafraid, healed and whole. I want to write books I will remain proud of, and I want to know that I was able to do my best in such endeavors and that somehow I helped someone, maybe a reader, come to terms with trauma and recovery, existence and death, shame and praise. It is simply a wild journey.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

My manuscript Seven has been accepted for publication. Finally. Whew. And I have it in writing this time. I don't think there will be any more surprises and broken promises. I still have a couple of rounds of editing, but the entire process has been less rushed than my first book, and I've been able to take my own pace, which is apparently quite slow ;) I've had immense help and what I consider a true blessing in my two superb editors. It should appear by AWP 2013. I'll provide more information and a link to the press, which is a spanking new press, later. My book will be one of the first they publish. I feel honored and very, very thankful. The press has a by invitation only policy now for poetry books, so I especially feel thankful that it is run by two women who clearly support my work and have been very encouraging as this was a HARD book to write, is a hard book to write as I still probably have two more rounds of editing to go, but there is an end in sight, and I have a date and place when the book will appear.

So, humorously, I will be attending AWP in Boston whenever it happens, and this time I will register early :)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Up very, very early this morning. Too early really. Saw my attorney yesterday regarding my social security disability hearing, and he seems very on top of things. My hearing is set for June 20th, and I'm really nervous about it, but there's nothing I can do about it at the moment. I wrote 19 poems this past month or so, and I feel really good about a number of them, but I realize I'm not writing in the style that is popular now-a-days, but that's okay. I feel good about my work now, about what I'm writing about and how I'm writing it. I am going to keep working on the poems to make them the best they can be. These 19 poems are totally new, and not part of "Seven." They seem to come more smoothly, as I am less stressed than when I wrote "Seven."

Waiting to hear back from two editors who are currently helping me with "Seven." They are very good. I added four new poems to the manuscript, and I'm sure those are the ones I will need to work on the most when they get back to me. Not really sure what will materialize from this process, but I feel I'm getting very helpful feedback. It's helping me get back to what I wanted to do with my work originally, and though the collection has been difficult for me, largely due to content of some of the poems, I feel it is coming to an end.

Carmen says once I get past this collection, I can move on and it will probably be easier. I think she's right as poems are flowing more smoothly once again, now that that manuscript is almost finished. I have a lot of difficulty liking the collection as I've worked on it for so long, and I have an awareness that it might make others uncomfortable reading it as much as it's been uncomfortable writing it. I don't know. I had to address issues of trauma and mental illness for my own sanity, and it's helped me move to a different place. In some ways, I've moved beyond where I was when it was written, and that was a very hard place. I have a hard time looking at those poems. I'm glad to be writing new ones. I was in the midst of deaths, illness and recovering from amnesia or repressed memories. It was not a pleasant time. Also, I struggled with anger from the past, about a lot of things. In the end, I am uneasy with it, but it is time to move on to something different altogether.


Going to a sleep doctor in the morning. I've been awake since 2:30 a.m. So I blog though nobody is reading really. It helps me maintain what I'm doing as it is quite lonely writing and living off AND aka 175.00 a month. I really don't like facebook very much. It's okay, but no real communication seems to go on there.


Not sure I will swing money to go to Canto Mundo suddenly, as my hearing date is further back than I had previously thought, but you never know what can happen by then.


Don't think I can get back to sleep this morning as it's almost 5 now.

Friday, April 06, 2012

I finally got back to FINDING WATER: The Art of Perseverance by Julia Cameron. Cameron wrote, THE ARTIST'S WAY, which my best friend insisted I read before she died. I didn't bother to pick it up until after she passed away, and she was right, it was very helpful, but FINDING WATER is helping me more than THE ARTIST'S WAY in the sense that the book is about persevering as an artist when things get difficult, when we are blocked, when we are jealous, when we aren't sober, when we are simply struggling to be creative. The margins are filled with inspirational and healing quotations. I will write a few here, but I also want to mention that I've been reading Afaa Michael Weaver's MULTITUDES: POEMS SELECTED AND NEW, which is also very helpful to me as a poet. Here's a quote from the introduction which helped me see through a lot of things which have blocked me; it is written by Arnold Ramperstand:

"Another strong impression here is of a poet confident about the subjects of his art; Weaver knows what he must write about, and he is not easily distracted by fashion or politics."

For too long I've allowed fashion and politics to interfere with the pleasure and contentedness that writing can bring us. I have learned lately to write past these things, and I am hoping to continue on my journey towards self-affirmation and confidence in my own work, which has been flailing for years. Also, healing has been a full-time job for me. Writing is a means to staying alive for me. In the darkest times, creativity has helped me survive. Whether the poems are good or bad is irrelevant. Some people oppose this ideology of sorts, but I have found that writing or creating something in this life is a means to finding the beauty in the world. Creativity helps us find what helps us live, helps us breathe deeply and full, and find the fearlessness necessary to face the next day.

Here's a quote which was very helpful in that I actually wrote 5 poems after reading it. It helped me sit with this loneliness and this solitude and unfortunate depression and find some peace.

"Just be at the keyboard, in the hands of God [the universe for me]. Wait, listen, love the silence, and eventually the silence will sing for you, as it always has and always will."

Also, not working, at times leads me to doubt my ability to write, to succeed, to fight my diagnosis, to an unyielding loneliness, which I fight daily. Not being in academia, or I should more aptly say, not fitting in in academia led me in someways to doubt my ability, to question what I was doing with myself. I feel at times the ultimate outsider with terrible networking skills, and a slew of other difficulties which make it difficult to write, difficult to read. But close friends tell me these struggles, the PTSD and the other embarrassing diagnosis, help me be a poet. It took me years before I could say I was a "poet" without feeling like a fraud. And the feeling of failure has haunted me. So this particular book has moved me and taught me quite a bit regarding comparisons, jealousy, injustice, snobbery, bitterness and so forth. So, the following quote is more a way for me to see the strength I possess in not necessarily "fitting in" or being the right "fit," which I never was.

"Art is not to be taught in academies. It is what one looks at, not what one listens to, that makes the artist. The real schools should be the streets."-- Oscar Wilde.

And again, Cameron,

"In order to function well as an artist, I must love the present. I must function in the present, savoring the sweet that is to be found there."

Cameron, a recovering alcoholic talks a lot about God or a higher power or possibly the universe and our need to let go and let this great mystery work through us. It is not us writing, but something more complete, something that we are a part of. My friend Lew has bone cancer and has been told he has a decade to live at the most. He is a young, beautiful man and this is simply heart breaking, but the fact is he has an uncanny faith, an ability to believe we all have divinity within us. So, I highly recommend Cameron's book if you too struggle with writer's block.

Recently someone said I should go through hypno-therapy to deal with the block, but I think simply finding this book, seeking beauty and immersing oneself in the moment can work for me

Here's a final quote which spurned a new poem, which I think has definite possibilities.

"Like the crocus, the artist does not pause to ask if his work is timely or welcome. Critical reception will perhaps be chilly like an unseasonal snow, but like the crocus, the artist survives."

Well, I'm going to try to write something now or possibly draw.