Wednesday, February 02, 2022

the girls turn into trees, then back into girls

John William Waterhouse

Last night, as I was coming home, the snow was just beginning to fall, and an hour or so later, I stepped out to mail a package and everything was covered in white. This morning, on waking, a good amount of snow and wind, though thankfully Columbia, last night,  had already decided to close for the day. It was a welcome reprieve in a week that has seemed longer than it should be for two days in, but also, is moving briskly towards my last day in the library on Friday.  I went back to bed after J left for work and then spent the day with coffee and some reading on HD, who is the subject of my latest lesson writing assignment.  She  is actually one of the modernists I am least familiar with, strange since there is much to like there, particularly her interest in mythology. The more I work on non-poetry writing pieces about myths, the more I feel them, again, wanting to creep back into my poems, so who knows. 

As I packed up a box under my desk last week, I found my huge stash of copies of The Archaeologists Daughter. I remember having had them shipped there way back in 2005 when I was still hesitant to deliver to my building due to thievery, though it seems quite ridiculous that anyone would steal a box of poetry chapbooks, it certainly happens. It was actually part of two shipments, the first with an error that the editor of Moon Journal corrected, so I had double what I needed.  I wound up recycling the error copies and bringing the rest home, though I already have many copies there.  The chapbook, which came out a little later than planned, was technically my first, though it actually followed two others I issued myself.  They are the oldest poems, some written as early 1999. Some poems appeared dually in other chapbooks because of subject matter (there are a couple that overlap with Bloody Mary, though the poems slightly vary.) By the time it came out in summer of 2005, I was on the verge of acceptance for my first full-length and working on new work, so I always feel like book got a little short-changed.

Nevertheless, there are poems in there about history. literature, art, and mythology, largely because I was such a baby poet (I was approaching 30, but still a novice), I scarce knew how to plumb my own life for subject matter, nor yet smart enough to create original stories. That would come later, as would other projects with nods to mythology--beautiful, sinister, with it's three sisters named after the muses.  taurus, of course, a retelling of Ariadne and the Minotaur, only before Theseus enters the picture.  When I was pulling together dark country, I realized these two things seemed strange but somehow appropo in a book about horror and the gothic. What is, after all, more horrific than the monsters of the Greeks? The original gothics--the harpies, the sirens, Medusa, Cerberus. SO much blood--I think of Agamemnon in the bathtub every time I see him mentioned. Of Cassandra, the prophetess no one would believe. (who has her own more modern poem in The Archaelogist's Daughter, of course, as well as in the first full-length.)

I watched a terrible movie about Achilles with Brad Pitt last weekend and began thinking of the epic hero and how women fit into that. Or don't.  They are, of course, wives and lovers and monsters. Villians and victims.   I have a poem about Daphne in AD, but also a poem later, in major characters in minor films, called "how to re-imagine your life through mythological characters." (where the title of this entry lives.)  It ends with a mention of Iphigenia, who also has seemed like a character that needs her own epic journey, so I made not of that for a future possible project. 

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