Envelope Poems

May has always calibrated the tension of transition as students wait for the last day of school and families converge to celebrate holidays. This May feels especially tight . Across the Atlantic body, Ukraine and Russia wage war and here, at home, bodies do what they have always done: tried to stay alive.

Lorde’s words, “Poetry is not a luxury,” are regal pines, green though every season. But for me, this May, they bloomed with truth. I needed a night of unfettered, playful writing to process and reflect on a busy month. Inspired by Dickinson’s Envelope Poems, I settled on a project to put the junk mail on my desk to good use. These are the raw poems from my evening of necessary poetry.

I was surprised by how the form influenced my writing. The deconstructed envelopes created space constraints that seemed to expand rather than limit my process and the plastic crunch of address windows dictated line breaks out of their noisy necessity. This necessity in structure and content echoed a common theme in my little collection of poems: preservation. Apart from discernment, preservation evolves into hoarding. Artful living and writing relies on the paradox of resistance, a dogged insistence on mastering the act of holding on while letting go. These poems are still in their infant form, but I sense they may mature into something more mature in revision.

On Writing During a Pandemic

In some ways the pandemic  thwarted my writing progress. Pre-pandemic, I had a steady routine and a solid plan. But low-level stress over the past several months has shaken my routine and caused me to abandon said plan.  It’s also caused me to carry a full-size bottle of Lysol in my purse so I can disinfect shopping carts at the grocery store and chairs in the waiting room. Perhaps, this strikes you as overzelous, but this is for your benefit, not mine. Because, if there is anyone out there who is an asymptomatic carrier, I’m pretty sure it’s me.

I’m not very self-aware when it comes to my body. When my appendix ruptured years ago, I decided to go for a stroll so I could walk off what I assumed were stomach cramps.  When that didn’t work, I tried drinking water (which cures everything, right?) until my husband made me go to the E.R.  I was promptly rushed to the operating room for an emergency surgery.  Suffice it to say, my mind-body connection is a little off so consider the Lysol spray a courtesy.

Between the clouds of disinfectant, I am still writing, just not what I hoped to be writing. Currently, my big project is on hold. With the ever-changing news I just can’t maintain the necessary level of engagement to move forward.  It’s too hard to sustain focus and the nature of the project demands attention to detail.  Anyone else feel this way right now?

However,  my poetry collection is coming along nicely and guess what?  A poem from the collection was published in the Eastern Iowa Review! The witty Chila Woychik edits the online journal which features lyric essays and poetic prose.  So if you need somthing to take your mind off of Covid-19, check it out and don’t forget to read my recent poem about the weather.

 

Gullah Geechee Queen

I would like to extend a huge thank you to the Petigru Review for selecting my poem, Gullah Geechee Queen, for their most recent issue.  The poem is a part of a larger collection exploring life in the modern South.

Jane Bowers, Sue Cryer, and Amber Wheeler Bacon have created an elegant compilation of writing to be enjoyed at your leisure. The readers, designers, and photographers of the Petigru Review have curated a reading experience you don’t want to miss.

Is your budget tight?  No worries.  Amazingly, the online publication is FREE!

Check out my poem, Gullah Geechee Queen at: https://thepetigrureview.com/1104-2/

And make time to read the other pieces at: https://thepetigrureview.com/

On Writing, Failure, and Writing

National Write a Novel Month (NaNoWriMo) ended yesterday. I love the hype. I love the energy. And I love a good challenge. Naturally I accepted the task at hand: write 50,000 words in one month. Ambitious? Yes. Impossible? No

Throughout the challenge, life didn’t extend the courtesy of pausing or at the very least, slowing down. Instead it raced ahead. During November, I studied for college classes, took a Praxis exam, spent over 30 hours driving to a funeral, hosted a birthday party, taught a few lessons to high school students, took one daughter to the doctor and took another daughter to have surgery, cleaned up after several children when they became ill from a stomach bug, waited for my husband to return home from two out of state trips, and looked after my five children.

Whew!

It’s no surprise that I failed the NaNoWriMo challenge. I wrote until the very last minute and fell short.  But I managed an impressive 48,658 words- less than 1,500 words shy of my 50,000 goal.

In terms of the challenge, I’m a loser. I didn’t win the NaNoWriMo challenge. I didn’t plan for my children to get sick or an uncle to die. But things happen. This is real life. The real challenge isn’t just about winning. The real challenge is writing during adversity and finding satisfaction in the work. I learned I can  rise to the occasion, tackle a project, and finish better than I started.

Like it or not, failure is part of the journey.

November may have brought you beautiful highs. Or maybe, like me, it brought you unexpected obstacles. Whatever the case, keep moving forward.

I will reach my word count goal no later than Tuesday. After that, I have my work cut out for me as I revise and redraft. Word by word. Line by line.

Writing. Failing. And writing again.