Saturday, February 09, 2019

the poet and her prose

Fridays are the day I tend to writing-related business things and yesterday, I submitted some fragments from a recent project to a couple journals that specialize in prose/hybrid/prose poems.  Recently, I've written far more prose formatted work than lines (the last lineated project was ordinary planet.)  Somehow, the lined pieces somehow feel like a game, a clever equation. Maybe more that I'm a poet who thinks in prose, perhaps always have, and then re-worked things into lines. And it's poetical prose for sure (nothing irks me more than ordinary prosey prose arbitrarily broken up into lines) but the act of breaking seems false or contrived somehow.

I thought of this around the time of my mother's funeral.  Years ago, when the mother of my mom's best-friend died, a woman who had been supportive of I am my sister all along, and especially of my poetry career, they had asked for me to give them a poem to be read at her funeral.  I remember handing a couple of my books with possibilities marked in post-its over to the minister. I was unable to make make the funeral, and am unsure of which poem they wound up choosing, my work not being the kind one looks toward for solace or inspiration. So fast forward to my mother's funeral, and my dad having mentioned to my sister, the very day she died, that perhaps I could read or write something.  I immediately said no, of course, my mind not in any sort of state to be articulate at all, not to mention the impending crippling anxiety I was expecting over the next few days.  I wasn't even sure how I could get through the service in one piece, let alone get up in front of everyone.

I read something recently that talked about anxiety and trauma, and how sometimes the very worst circumstances actually cause a bit of abatement.  So, with some help from friends and, admittedly, a little liquid courage in the form of a couple tiny booze bottles in my purse (I think my mother would have approved and, hey, whatever gets you through). I make it through that service intact, and the day before, had even managed to write something--not even remotely a poem--but prose. Somewhere, it's saved on my studio computer, but I haven't read it since.  But writing it felt a little like a dam breaking, and I cried heavily for the first time since it had happened three days before.  Those days are foggy (and not because of the booze) but I'm pretty sure my written piece had a little levity--maybe even a joke about my mother and her very specific funeral instructions.  About her always being a mutual bad influence on aunts and other women we had already lost. About how I should be so lucky that occasionally I open my mouth and my mother slips out.   It was eloquent, and real, probably less poetic than creative pieces, but more genuine. Maybe the hardest thing I've written, but maybe also the truest.

These things felt more honest and real, more so than if they had been arranged into the artfullness--the artifice--of lined poetry. Most projects since , except the ordinary planet ones, have manifested as shorter or longer pieces of prose. Lineation feels clever--like a ruse--and until something really needs to be in verse, I think I'll continue my free form wanderings..

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