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.

2 comments:

Jessie Carty said...

i thought when my first chapbook came out that i would somehow stop writing on those topics, but i didn't. i don't write on them as much and there is a relief to having so many of those "mother" poems done but my first full length book is also full of them.

i never realized the obsessions i had as a writer until i began working on my thesis. it is a fascinating journey :)

denise said...

I'm pondering what your professor mentioned, his belief that poets have only a few subjects they continue to return to again and again...