This blog post is dedicated to Philippa Hughes and Karen Yankosky who through some sort of stealth Ninja mojo finally convinced me to hop on the blog train. (I may be kidding about the stealth Ninja mojo, maybe…)
Also, please check out Color My Palate Sonia Chintha who also hopped on the blog train today!
I haven’t passed on the mantle o’ blogging as all of my usual suspects have been too busy to fall for my own stealth Ninja mojo. But if you’d like to continue the blog train, please let me know, and I’ll send you directions as well as let folks know to keep an eye out for your blog.
Without further ado…
What am I working on?
I am working on a couple of things: a book of love poems, which is about not just the two lovers, but also what has influenced what each of them thinks of love, such as parents, past heartbreak, etc. (Well, it’s supposed to what has influenced each of them, but it may ultimately be the woman’s POV primarily.) For the man’s voice, I’m writing found poems using interviews with the actor Michael Fassbender. (He’s Irish; I’m pretty sure he won’t mind.)
I’m also hoping to work on a series of essays about my relationship with my father. I did 30 days of writing about him (see the fourth question), and I’d like to see if I can flesh them out into some sort of book. I wrote the essays because my father was dying, and I needed a way to reconcile my relationship with him before he passed. I haven’t been able to really look at the work for the past few months since he died, but I’m hopeful something will come of it once I’ve gained some distance.
How does my work differ from others in my genre?
I’m not sure I can say how my work differs from others in my genre. There are so many distinctive voices in poetry these days, I am not certain I could say I’m doing anything utterly original, nor do I really worry about it. I believe that if a writer is being as true to their story or their experience of whatever they’re writing about as possible, then it can’t be just like anyone else cause none of us is 100% like anyone else. If I were to think about some of the things that characterize my poems, I’d say I do a lot of found work, there is a certain musicality to my work, and I think my best poems are highly imaginative and perhaps have a touch of the surreal.
Why do I write what I do?
I have been told a zillion times that for a serious poet, writing shouldn’t be therapy. But it is for me, at least in part. I get a sense of clarity about the jumble of thoughts, feelings, impulses I seem to be processing at any given time. Poetry is the one place I can’t hide from myself. It’s where I find out what I really think, the stuff I don’t even want to tell myself.
I did a reading with the poet and mental health advocate Bassey Ikpi once. And she talked about how she wrote for the other, and that’s something I firmly believe as well. I spent far too much of my life believing I was the only one carrying around my particular griefs and wounds, but with age and wisdom comes the knowledge that while no one has my exact story, there are plenty of women who carry around at least some of the same stuff, but perhaps don’t have the gift I have for giving those sorrows voice. So my job is to grieve and shout and laugh and name what can’t be named and cry and dream out loud for all of us.
What is my writing process?
I’m a binge writer. Which I didn’t know until a fortuitous dinner with the poet Carl Phillips more than a decade ago in which he admitted his own binge writer-ness. Up till then, I thought I’d been doing it wrong, that I was undisciplined because I didn’t sit down at a desk every day at the same time for a set amount of hours. Nor was I good at getting up early to write before work, or staying up late to write after work. I wrote a lot, but I wrote in the cracks of my days at the office. I occasionally got the bones of a poem down on the page after I did my morning journals. Or I would cocoon myself at home for a weekend (perpetually earning the ire of friends) and read and write and read and write. I’ve learned that my process is more about letting myself not have a specific process. I write when and where I can for however long I can. My job as taskmaster is less about making sure I am writing poems, and more about making sure I remain open to poems so I can catch them when they come. And that I’m doing things that birth poems—like reading, looking at art, day dreaming. That being said, a few times a year, I do like to commit to doing a month of writing poems. I don’t always write each day of the month during these times, but I do have poetry on the brain, which is half my battle. I also tend to binge write my blog, generally a combination of short essays and poems on a single theme for roughly 30 days or so. (Starting in May, I’m writing about–GULP!–my body.)