Monday, November 27, 2017

The Rumors Are Slightly Exaggerated...


          Was it May when I last posted? So much time has passed, blog-wise. Part of me is compelled to try and catch up all at once. Another part of me just wants to leave a short note today, letting those I don’t always see a lot of that I am in fact still in the Poetry Game. And so I am.
            I’ve been lucky enough to have been invited to read in several new venues in 2017, including my first college gig, at Dutchess County Community College in Poughkeepsie. I got to meet some great students and faculty, and to hear more of Anton Yakovlev and Janet Hamill. I offered my services to a local arts “organization” in the form of a series of four free poetry workshops for the community. They were poorly attended and even more poorly publicized. I helped to represent Calling All Poets at a book fair at the Catskill Center in Phoenicia this summer, and got a pretty good sunburn to show for it. All in the name of supporting the arts.
            After the ugly events of November, 2016, I promised myself that I’d start walking the Liberal walk, and do more volunteer work in my community. I looked for opportunities that I was suited to, language and communications. My first effort was to train to be an English language tutor, but the group in charge was disorganized and delusional. I was assigned a learner who’d been in the program for too many years, and was clearly looking more for friends than skills. My only success so far in volunteering has been the single night I found time to help out at the Rosendale Theater, a longstanding tradition now in a new phase, that of local theater and movie house.
            All this angst, plus the necessary day job, leaves me with limited time to write, but I do. Early morning is best, when energy and inspiration allow. I’ve set the memoir aside for now, at least physically. It’s always brewing like a tiny black cauldron at the back of my head, but for now, I’ll let it bubble. With all the information I’ve crammed into my head in fifty-five years about the Ziegfeld Follies, I decided to just dive in and rough out some poems. At last count I have twenty-five pages of poems based on one of the least marketable of topics, but it’s poetry, and so beyond any Capitalist leanings it’s not even remotely amusing. It’s for me. And perhaps a neat handful of equally distracted Nostalgists. Hail the Interwebs!
            In mid-November, I was once again the featured reader at Harmony in Woodstock, a last-minute offering I’m glad now I accepted. The restaurant is likely to close early in 2018, and the series may or may not find a new home. To read in Woodstock for me is to come full circle, in a way. After college, after my divorce, the readings at the Tinker Street CafĂ© hosted by Dean Schambach (passed away just a month ago) were the real beginnings for me of my life as a post-graduate poet. I don’t believe that, outside of New York City, the same numerous opportunities exist for poets, and it was just luck, just a happy accident that I’ve ended up making my life here in the Hudson Valley. My work has grown, and been fed by so many I’ve met here. There is a richness inside that I could never have imagined for my life, a comradery I didn’t think was possible for a writer.
            The year has had its losses too, in addition to the loss of America’s dignity overseas. Several health issues have made life difficult for those around us. A couple have died too young. I am feeling unsettled, unambitious, confused as to what my priorities as an artist, as a woman, as a citizen might be. The clock ticks. My knees ache. My eyes close by 10:00 p.m., and the morning brings a thousand demands all before work begins at 9:00 a.m. Even now, I might try to get dishes done before I lay down to read a page before sleep. And the poems do come, when you least require them, and they find their place among all this life’s ephemera. I’d like to think I’ll have things in order when the time comes to drop this body, all projects completed, all papers in order. But in truth, when I’m gone, I don’t think whatever might be next will have any inclination to be concerned. 
          And there is a new granddaughter.