Saturday, February 9, 2013
I am behind, as I always am, in my blog updates, with several good reasons. My annual Xmas bronchitis started a week before, and as of this writing I am still not feeling 100%. though many days I am close to 98. No decorations, minimal celebration. I let most of the season slide away, a sort of present to myself. We stayed home to watch the Times Square ball drop online, on a choppy live feed, and then I crawled into bed, hoping again to sleep through the night.
Perhaps I need more probiotics in my life. Exercise has certainly been lacking, but with last night's snowfall, I am determined to help out Nanook as we at least dig out the cars and let the City of Kings take care of the streets.
Another reason for being behind on a poetry blog would be a lack of poetry news. Now, this isn't entirely true, since in the last months of 2012, I came out with two new chapbooks, albeit compiled from old material. I did a reading in November with Rebecca Schumejda and threw together a collection of Kingston poems I've written over the years (far more than I would have guessed or am willing to admit!), called Kingston Is Burning. On January 2nd, Moses Parts the Tulips made its debut in Saratoga Springs, where I was a feature at Carol Graser's Caffe' Lena series along with Tess Lecuyer. The Albany book was lovingly crafted by Dan Wilcox and published under his APD Press, and features a gorgeous cover by artist/poet Kristen Day. I am very pleased with both, and am satisfied that both these groups of poems, when gathered up together, have a lot to say about the cities they were inspired by, and how I have (hopefully) changed over the years.
I completed manuscript of new poems in November, horse poems, and submitted it to a contest sponsored by the Center for Book Arts in NYC. Once that comes back home, as I suspect it will, I will look for a home for it elsewhere or publish it myself, perhaps after trying to place some of the individual poems in some of the thousands of literary magazines that this Depression is inspiring. Otherwise, much of my energy these days has been devoted to work on a novel.
I began the first draft of this manuscript almost four years ago, but abandoned it after perhaps six months. Life got in the way as it does, and poetry seems to fit in where extended work on prose doesn't. I picked it up again about a year ago, anxious to lose myself in a long, deep project. I was surprised at how much better it was than I had remembered. Granted, it's still not very good as a long piece of prose, in my estimation. I am learning about the novel writing process, structure, etc. by experimenting on this poor beast of a book. Perhaps, as Truman Capote is supposed to have suggested, I will deep-six it on completion and go on to another project. But for the moment, it serves my need to create pretty perfectly.
I am on the second draft now, which I chose to do in long hand, in a thick spiral notebook. The first draft was typed completely on computer. I am part of a small cadre of prose writers who meet once a month to go over chapters of each others' work and offer objective feedback. I have the Gotham Writers Workshop handbook and hope to attend a one-day session there this spring. In the meantime, I am learning about how characters take on a life of their own, how to cut what doesn't move the story forward and rereading some of the authors who inspired me to love literature in the first place: Toole, Joyce, Miller.
And since I have in recent months cut down to almost nothing the number of open poetry mics I attend, I feel no pressure at all to 'come up' with something new on a regular basis. Poems will come as they will. Reading the pretentious introduction to a book of photos of Frida Kahlo inspired me to go it one better, and I came up with a poem in the voice of a lover spending the afternoon with her. Hearing Rebecca again in early January at the Colony Cafe' reading as part of a fundraiser for the mighty Home Planet News drove me to jot down a few loosely associated notes that became a rough draft which I have since misplaced, without much regret. Sometimes if you don't follow up on the thread of a progress of thoughts that you hope will become a poem, it all unravels on the page and in your mind. It might still become something, but not what it could have been. Or so we will always believe.
I started a new, full-time job this week. It doesn't pay a princessly sum, but it will be regular, so perhaps I can get my financial affairs in better order. I don't know if a more regular schedule will help or hinder the creative process when it comes to my writing. I do know you are responsible to make a date with the Muse. Don't spend your life waiting for the bitch to call. Today is a snow day. The Northeast got dumped on again. That does happen in the winter. I am attempting homemade cresent rolls, which at this rate should be ready for dinner. The third draft of the novel will bring me back to the keyboard, and my notes. We will see what happens.