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.

7 Things That Saved My Writing Life in 2021

  1. Writing Utensil Pouch: 2021 was a year of flexible workspace. The Delde pencil pouch made the transition from virtual to hybrid to in-person instruction feel a little bit calmer. I loved how the pouch converted to a cup which made my dining room and bedroom feel like an official workspace.
  2. Artist Loft Dotted Journals: Dotted journals allowed me to move from from my pre-planning, which often involves sketching and concept maps, to drafting. Artist Loft journals were also inexpensive and sturdy which meant I never felt like they were too precious for daily pages and I took them with me everywhere. (Carpool line. Doctor’s office. Skating rink. Park.)
  3. South Carolina Literary Organizations: The South Carolina Writer’s Association, the Poetry Society of South Carolina, and the Pat Conroy Literary Center stayed committed to providing high quality literary experiences in the midst of a world-wide pandemic. Thanks to their commitment to digitizing events, I was able to attend more workshops, conferences, and meetings than ever before. I realize this pivot required hours of behind the scene work by committed volunteers. Their passion and dedication was a gift.
  4. Dark Chocolate: Need I say more?
  5. Hot Cinnamon Sunset Tea: If I were a hot tea, I would be Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Sunset Tea. The blend is spicy and sweet and the tea bags are strong enough to be used for a second cup. I purchase mine in the grocery aisle at Target, but Fresh Market also carries the tea. You can order online as well. As an added bonus, you can re-purpose the tin as a planter.
  6. Fellow Writers: In 2021, writing felt lonelier than ever. Thankfully, writers all over the world helped me feel connected with a swipe, tap, or click. These amazing creators provided valuable instruction that energized my writing practice. Additionally, when it was safe, I was able to meet up with other poets to walk and talk craft. Their encouragement and insight encouraged me to keep writing.
  7. Richland County Public Library: My library’s selection of books and resources is phenomenal. Access to materials such as audio books, music, and hardcover best sellers provided the escape and relief I needed to return to the real world refreshed.
Seriously, this tea is the best.

Sijo #15

Blue Woman

I have never been a blue woman

until tonight. I drive in color cast

from dozens of police beacons.

Sirens are silent when I ask them

what is civil about a disturbance,

since when were sidewalks private?