Friday, March 15, 2013

The New Poetry Journal

old poetry journal cover featuring some of the poets
whose work I studied during the course
It's been almost four years since I completed my undergrad in writing. 

Many friends from the program I attended have gone off and on to amazing MFAs, have published pretty significantly, or have become technical writers, content writers, slam poets of note, blog writers, adjunct professors, poetry award winners, and writers on the sides of many other things like myself. 

I feel that I have lost my academic discipline, rigor, and mind-set to the point that even keeping to a simple writing schedule has been challenging because of all the transitions of life. I think that discipline and rigor are important. Write, draft, write, draft, etc. and all the reading and living and absorbing that goes along between the writings and redraftings. . . and then of course there's the finishing and the sending off part (because too many of us never even try publishing, even in a world where publishing has become as simple as this blog post). 

Writing needs to be a practice. It needs to have some sort of routine or anchor. 

example pages from old poetry notebook featuring found poetry
and one of the poetry experiments form the class

I've been wanting to get back into writing in a disciplined way, with goals and deadlines, projects and brainstorms, research and more research. I especially have been wanting to get back to this work because I feel obligated. I make claims sometimes that I am a writer, a poet, and there are people who are asking me to either perform work or submit something, and there are still others asking if I might host a workshop, salon, or another non-sequitur exquisite corpse party. I feel obligated, not only to those calls and inquiries but to my own call which becomes an anxious one if I am not doing this work. That call trumps any fear that my work might suck or that it might not mean anything to anyone.

I wasn't sure how to start. I own more than 2000 books, at least two bookshelves of which contain poetry anthologies and chapbooks, books about craft, books about poets, books of letters from poets to poets, etc. It's just too overwhelming. Aside from the library, there are the local poets I want to keep tabs on, the poets from the hub of my home town, friends from school, and I of course want to keep up with and continually hone my own craft. 

In college, one of my professors had us make a Poetry Journal in one of her classes so that we could really marinate over poems and poets we learned about during the course of the class. In the books, we tried out poetry experiments, looked for and pasted in found poetry, pictures of things, pictures of poets, and works of theirs that we had copy-changed. We listed quotes that we liked from the poems, pasted in lines, stanzas, wrote our thoughts about them, wrote letters to the poets we admired and asked them questions, told them what we thought. . . .

a collection of favorite lines from some of the
poems of Mina Loy.
I have thought about that journal off and on since then. I have even posted a couple of things from that journal onto this blog with the intention of posting more (see "Accessible Poetry First," as an example). Things have been transitioning for me so I haven't been able to scan what pages I really want to include but I have many blank notebooks and lots of pens. 

Last night, I opened up Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey's book Thrall and I couldn't get past the two first quotes on the page preceding the contents and the poems. I was reminded of my old poetry journal from class, found one of my blank moleskins and made my very first little entry, the quotes, my thoughts about them, and soon, there will be snippets featuring lines that I like best, quotes from the poet, and perhaps even some of my own work as response. I am excited about this because it feels like direction. It's an assignment, self-assigned, and an anchor back into the discipline, an anchor of study that relates directly to craft.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

How Natasha Trethewey's Chapbook Thrall Begins

I just found the following quotes as the introduction to the chapbook called Thrall, which was written by Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey:

What is love?
One name for it is knowledge.
    --Robert Penn Warren. 
After such knowledge, what forgiveness?     --T.S. Eliot.

What a beautiful beginning to a poet whose work I had not yet read!

I haven't much to say yet about the work that is inside. To be honest, I stopped at the quotes. While I understand the quotes have other significance in context, they also have significance to me without their context. Further, the quotes bring together two of my favorite poetry forms which are the found poem and exquisite corpse