Tuesday, December 22, 2020

poems as snapshot and document

Sometimes the more personally rooted in experience a project is, the more it serves as a snapshot into my own history, which doesn't always become apparent until later.  The first book, out of all of them, that felt more personal was major characters in minor films--a book, which up to that point, had the most "me."  I was,  of course ,present in bits of other projects in bits-particularly the fever almanac and in the bird museum, but less so in others (the shared properties of water and stars, which was steeped in fairytale, or girl show, which was set in another time period and world entirely.) Subsequent projects were a mix--the mermaid poems of salvage, or the love poems in sex & violence, which were wrapped tighter in my own experience than other parts of the book. Looking at all these things now, they provide almost a time capsule of the time of their writing--the relationships (good and bad) that generated them and which they are about.  The other life circumstances that form them.  Even the poems that are not about my own experiences are, at the least, littered with truths and untruths, with obsessions and observations. While something like the apocalypse book seems to be it's own world, the existence of the projects that make it up form a framework of how i was feeling about the world, just as much as anything autobiographical does.

Perhaps I've been thinking about this in regard to feed, since a huge percentage of the book is autobiography--particularly swallow and the hunger palace,.  Even the imaginary daughter poems, surreal as they are, feel very close to a certain internal dreamlike landscape they stem from. If you were a stranger who wanted to get to know me, I might suggest you read this. My sister once told me that the most true thing I'd written--the closest to my own personality--was the james franco series, but I feel like the imaginary daughter poems are a close second. I've also been thinking a lot about the idea of documentation as an artist, especially in these strange, turbulent, historical times.  How what we write, if we're lucky (or sometimes unlucky) becomes part of a certain cultural fabric.

When I started bloom in the spring, I was in that stalled out period of writing.  I had managed to muddle through The Shining inspired poems, and actually liked what I was getting by the end, but I suppose, like everyone, I felt I needed to also be writing about what was happening in the world--about anxiety and fear and upheaval.  Mind you, I've no doubt we are still there..I finished that series of poems in late summer, after I had gone back to work and the world felt more stable.  In the time since, we've fallen to more darkness and uncertainty and it looks like we live there now. Another series of poems, still in the revision phase, the plague letters, is a little less about corona specifically and more generally about society and connectedness, but I don't know if I really have any more corona-inspired poems in me. I feel like bloom captures the moment, or at least that moment in a nutshell...a time when we were still feeling out quarantine in the spring and what a disease that severs the human connection as we know it, could mean. Also, how nature just goes on without us, while simultaneously undoing us. You can read read the entire project here.