Saturday, November 28, 2009

It's Thanksgiving weekend, and I'm in the home of my grandparents, the couple who have played a central role in my written work over the past several years. I find myself turning back to that chapbook-sized collection of poems, puttering, false-starting on the last few poems. I wonder why it is taking me so long: Is it because I burn myself out on Literature for short period of time (I am now fully and finally emerged from a month-long hiatus, which I know you must have noted when this blog fell silent for so long)? Or is it because I'm afraid I'll never be able to write about them again, once I've begun sending the book out as a whole? Or do I have that ridiculous psychological connection--that if I am done with "the grandfather poems," then I am finally letting him go, beginning some strange process in the mourning timeline?

I wonder about the subjects that draw writers. Ray Gonzalez, professor and poet who runs our poetry thesis seminar this semester, talks about how he believes poets have only a few subjects we continue to return to again and again.

For me, it seems, these days, it's the body. With the grandfather poems, it was about the mental disintegration and physical effects of Alzheimer's, and with this new series, I am writing about myself, but I am doing so in the third person, as if I can create a mirror-self, a self that isn't-quite-me, but close enough that I can write with authority and confidence and test out, tease out the meanings behind the failings.

And with this, as with the grandfather poems, I feel most energized when I am writing exactly in that moment: writing of an exact moment of observation that occurred within twenty-four hours. Some feel they need that space of time to process, but I feel most alert right then and there. My own mind has some deep leakage, some release of memory, and though the ethereal process of remembering is a curious one, a great subject, I know I cannot preserve the drama, the cusp, of the moment without being entirely present.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I am still here, still plugging along, still overwhelmed with school. The thing that exhausts me the most is thinking about reading and writing, so it's difficult to come home and face a space that allows still more rumination about storytelling and pagination and all of that.

Last night, in memoir class, we ended with a sort of game. Trish Hampl, our instructor, is on the board of the usage committee for the American Heritage Dictionary, and she had a kind of survey asking if we felt certain word uses were completely / somewhat acceptable or completely / somewhat unacceptable, such as the use of "alright" versus "all right" and using the word "dialogue" as a verb. It was an entertaining way to end our session, with much passion around the table, a kind of nerdy debate. It was nice to be in that sort of company, where we can squabble over whether or not it's OK to pronounce "jewelry" with three syllables or two or how we might say "aberrant." It felt frivolous, but I agree with Trish--it's important to recognize the power and importance of being that sort of gatekeeper.