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.
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.
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.
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 http://cantomundo.org 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.