Tuesday, November 05, 2013

The dark.

Darlings! I am officially at that moment of the year when it is 6:43 p.m. and I feel like, what, is it bedtime yet? So dark. Also: cold. And I feel a tad sniffly, like maybe there's a cold about to happen, because my sleep, she is all mixed up.

But never mind. Today, I added yet another item to my permanent collection of long cardigans (cozy division), and have spent time burrowing into the cinematic (not really) archives of my screencasts, only to come to the inescapable conclusion that

  • although the screencaster seeks to make a durable instructional artifact,
  • time and tide do transform the landscape of, well, everything, and lo the screencasts of yesteryear do in the cold light(-ish) of day seem veritably old-timey and unbearably dated, and thus
  • the screencaster feels called to make a new one. Yes,
  • a new screencast, on an old topic, but with new examples and less static slides.
  • woe.
But never mind. Today for lunch I made a sandwich on a pretzel roll which, whoa, they are good. What was on my sandwich, you ask? Well! 
  • since we're working in bullet points, it was
  • melted gruyere and
  • avocado and
  • lots of little cut-up cherry tomatoes and
  • Maldon salt (infinitely better than regular salt, I swear it!), and
  • pepper, obvs, and
  • arugula.
I made it
  • open-faced
so that I could prolong the pleasure. And lo it was very good.

Also, I made a new screencast, and captioned it. And I made a
  • list of the other tasks I have to do,
  • none of which I have actually "accomplished."
So: good day.

Recently, my friend Ann, whose writing I have been reading for more than 30 years, true story!, asked me to answer these questions, called The Blog Tour. (you can read her answers here.)

1. What are you working on right now?

Right now, I'm revising a manuscript of poems. I'm writing new poems from time to time as well.

2. How does it differ form other works in its genre?

Hey, Blog Tour questions, when I read this question yesterday, it sent me into an existential crisis! How the hell should I know how it differs from other works in the genre? I can barely wrap my mind around these two facts:

  • (a) I am a poet. And
  • (2) WHY.
Welllll, it's a manuscript of poems. It still has some religion in it, which maybe is out of style these days? Or not. It is lyric. It feels urgent to me, and also late (maybe this is because I am getting older?). But in that it is lyric and deals with the usual lyric questions (beauty, joy/melancholy, death and loss, the persistence of song), I guess it is kind of of a piece with lyric poetry, that ancient art.

3. Why do you write what you do?

My answer to this may sound flippant, but it's true: because I can. Because I can, I do.

4. How does your writing process work?

I am currently not in much of a writing groove. But when I am, I more or less regularly write stuff down that I mentally tag "poem-ish" or "possibly poem-ish" or "smells like teen poetry." I have a document called "Daily Writing" that I write in semi-annually, which is where I record the poem-ish material. Sometimes--lucky times--a poem will come to me almost whole, or at least the whole gesture, or nearly the whole gesture. In that case I write it down, if I'm smart. I'm not always smart.

If I don't get the whole poem or the whole gesture, then periodically I go back through my notes and see what seems interesting. Sometimes, I take the interesting bits and create a new document to see if I can make something happen. Sometimes the "Daily Writing" document will give me an idea and I let that idea stew for a while, and then I see if I can make something out of that stewing.

I remember reading Stanley Kunitz, who said that when he was young he wrote all the time; as he got older, poems came to him less frequently. Philip Levine said that John Berryman told him, "When you are young, write everything that occurs to you." I did that, when I was younger. Right now, not so much is happening. But it will. I actually, now, kind of have faith in poetry. Right now, I am revising and shaping that manuscript. That is part of my process as well.

I am supposed to tag some of you, so watch out! I WILL TAG YOU.


  1. I love so many things about this post. The mixed up sleep and the cozy division and the sandwich, oh the sandwich. I was peacefully reading along, enjoying learning about your writing process when I was stopped straight up by this line, "Right now, I am revising and slapping that manuscript." Whoa nelly. I am so glad I reread that sentence and realized it said shaping. No violence for poems please.

  2. "How does it differ from other work in the genre" is an existential-provoking question. Because it sounds like you, is the truth there for you. I love this too, " I have a document called "Daily Writing" that I write in semi-annually." File titles. They help. A little bit.



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