|May Day! May Day!, or Lost in the Waste Land.
||[Friday, May. 1st, 2009|05:26 pm]
The richest girl in town.
April was National Poetry Month, also known as National Poetry Writing Month, also known as NaPoWriMo, also known as 30/30. Also known as the cruellest month, breeding / Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing / Memory and desire, stirring / Dull roots with spring rain. Thank you, Mr. Eliot.|
While I didn't intend ever to write a poem a day for 30 days--I know and respect my limitations--I did indeed write ten poems over the course of the month, which is more poems than I wrote in the preceding year. They are not all good. Some I like quite a lot; others will surely recede into the space occupied by all those other things I've written that were not quite up to snuff. A junkyard of words which I occasionally visit to rescue some rusted phrase, some battered metaphor, for a new venture. Reduce, reuse, recycle.
Reading over my month's handiwork, however, I feel an unequal mixture of confidence and bewilderment. As is my tendency, I obsess over what I perceive to be failures instead of patting myself on the back for those pieces of which I am proud. I even had a hard time responding to comments on those poetry posts--and especially complimentary comments. I have never been good at accepting compliments, and that continues to bother me. On the other hand, the poems of which I am less certain yell at me as I re-read them now, "DON'T QUIT YOUR DAY JOB! Oh, wait--"
There's always fiction, of course. And I do love to tell a story. I wrap myself up in the narrative, fill out as much context and background as I can to the point of annoying both my audience and myself. I am the tangent girl, I am committed to digression. You see, it's the details that make the story: the emotional backdrop, the quiet ironies, the colors and sounds and smells are what so deeply embed our memories.
So why not write memoir? Because memoir is false. Memories are false. Don't believe me? Have a drink. Now have another. Tell me what happened again--aha! You forgot, you embellished, you told me a story. A fiction. A lie.
Is there a difference between fiction and a lie? Only if you pretend it's memoir. Go ahead and embrace the fiction. Stories always start at the beginning, even when their beginnings are their ends. And if you know how the story ends, you'll edit out the bits that don't feel important, don't support your hypothesis, don't help the narrative.
And in the beginning....
Two people walked
to the edge of a cliff in 1976
and threw themselves off.
At the bottom you will not find
their bodies. You’ll find mine.
My father tried to kill me
before I was even born. He threw
my pregnant mother over a third-floor
banister. He says he doesn't remember,
but her broken collarbone never
forgets. We must have slipped
Four months later, I crawled
out of her battered womb
already cowering, trying to avoid
boots no longer kicking
but apparently made for walking away.
To be continued.
oh that is good. I want your first book.
The idea of both writing one and publishing one makes me both giddy and nauseous. I wouldn't even know here to start. Thanks.
You just smack together everything you've written you think is good. Research places that publish similar work to yours, that you like. Look at their submission guideliness online. Put together a query. Edit your pieces in the meantime. Get readers you like and trust, or go to something like the manuscript workshop at VONA. If you can do everything else you can do in your life you can do this. And the world needs your work.
Whoa. That first stanza is especially genius.
Italics not needed for emphasis.
The most thought stopping lines I've read in a long time.
Thanks--I used itals because that was actually a separate poem that I wrote years ago, but doesn't do very well on its own.
I always felt that the untrustworthiness of memory, the smudging of lines, the intentional or unintentional rewriting of history--I always felt that that was the point of a memoir. They are written to comfort the author and then to entertain.
As for this poem--stunning.
Wow. Nothing to be less certain of here. Lovely.