In the last few months, I have been filled with a new sense of urgency. It’s a double-edged energy, however. The more I see the futility in activities like cleaning and decorating, the more I am inclined to involve myself in these temporary details. They are so important that they don’t matter at all, which makes them joyfully important. It’s a sort of weird circle that doesn’t do much for my organizational skills, but frees me to follow the flow of my mood.
I am sifting through the material possessions I’ve accumulated, and discarding what no longer works for me. The Al-Anon literature goes. The pointy red shoes. The poetry books I have yet to crack. The jewelry that I got as gifts, and have never worn, but am afraid to get rid of in case the giver one day asks me about it. My eventual goal is to only have on hand items that will serve my life and my writing in the future. I’ve cleared out old files, gotten rid of tax returns older than seven years (mine went back twenty, as if anyone would care). And, I am putting together chapbook manuscripts consisting of the thirty-plus years of poetry languishing in my careful files, organized by year, first draft (be it on a napkin or a coaster), and “final,” typed copy.
In this new push, no version of a poem is final. I am grabbing poems by theme and style, although the ones written even five years ago are very different from the way I’m writing now. I am revising quickly, trying to bring the group into some harmony. I don’t yet know how successful I’ve been. I’ve submitted one chapbook manuscript to two potential publishers, and am working on a second with a deadline of the end of July. A small collection of horse poems will be combined at some point with childhood poems for a more rounded perspective, but according to my records, they are still floating around at some publisher or another in a previous configuration.
New work is still being written, but it’s nice to take time to revisit the old, with the fresh eye of time elapsed to give you the objectivity required to tighten and slash what I’ve already produced. New projects, incidentally, include a new poem every month beginning with the weather, and concluding with the current events of that month. These I am typing and tucking away, and will deal with early next year. I am hoping by the very fact of their similar origins that there will be a natural cohesiveness, another chapbook.
I have been inconsistent about submitting work over the years. With the Internet Times upon us, I no longer have an excuse. First drafts are always in longhand, preferably on yellow legal pads, but now second drafts are in the computer, stored on a flashdrive, and printed for the old paper files. I have mastered Submittables, and I understand how useful it must be for the little mags. I no longer discount online zines as not rrreeeaaallly being “published.”
I continue to research the Ziegfeld Follies of 1919, and am aiming for something to be completed by its one-hundredth anniversary. I’m not certain of the voice yet there. I hope to pull together a presentation of Kingston, NY poets to help fill the new performance space at the Art Society of Kingston. And then there’s that darned memoir….