Post-Mayhem Post-Hysteria Blog Post

Writing and anything related to writing crawls to a standstill during the last days of school. I'm still getting up early, but unfortunately the quiet time by myself has been spent doing other things, so I haven't made much progress. 

Or actually, I guess I've made some. Somewhere in the madness of the week-long events of the SCCC Creative Writing Festival, I found time to revise one or two lines a day of the fairy tale. And I read the first six scenes of Walcott's The Ghost Dance (very good, and I think better than Walker, the first play in the book, which feels -- dare I say it -- a little clunky compared to Ghost Dance.)

Also I gave up (for now) losing more precious minutes searching the stacks of paper around my house for the pages A. kindly wrote feedback on, the first half of the fairytale, up to Chapter Five, and instead I printed out the entire fairy tale in a double-spaced format (47 pages like that! That shit is long!) so that I can methodically go through the poem and study the meter. 

A. warned me against doing this during my sabbatical but that was when I was in the middle of trying to just write the damn thing and get it out onto paper, and now that it is very much on paper (a lot of it) I'm going to look for all of those places where the meter isn't working. For instance, places where I begin a line with two unstressed syllables, creating a less dynamic (slack) musical effect; as A. pointed out, more often than not these lines end up sounding something more or less like prose, not really poetry. 

So I'm going through the poem with a fine-tooth comb, as it were. I'm going to have to accelerate my progress, though, very soon -- because I'd like to have the fairy tale's first extensive revision complete well before May 31, which happens to be a submission deadline I'd like to meet. (For an excellent journal, The Fairy Tale Review,  which A. helped me find during the AWP Bookfair this year.)

Speaking of AWP, I'm ridiculously excited about the keynote conversation for AWP 2013 between Walcott and Seamus Heaney.

Yesterday I gave a talk at the college titled "Carolyn Forchè and The Poetry of Witness," which was only partly about Carolyn Forchè and her excellent anthology Against Forgetting, but also about two of my poet-friends who have written their own poetry of witness, Ruth Irupè Sanabria and Stephanos Papadopoulos. I use Ruth's The Strange House Testifies in my creative writing class -- and have for the past two years, I think. It's an excellent example of survivorship -- a word I just made up according to the Blogger spell check but is somehow confirmed by Anyway, the book demonstrates how atrocity and genocide affect those who manage to escape death. Stephanos wrote a book about The Black Sea Greeks, one that will be out in the fall of this year, which addresses the ethnic cleansing and exodus of a population of Greek people living in Turkey in the early half of the twentieth century.

The talk went well -- one of my colleagues was kind enough to bring her journalism class, which means that I actually had an audience! -- and because I spend time obsessing about things like giving talks and appearing like I know what I'm speaking about, I spent a good amount of time doing library database research while scripting the first half of my talk (the second half went largely unscripted, where I read and spoke about the poems). The whole rushing-to-get-it-finished thing was actually kind of energizing, and gave me an idea for an article I might pitch to the Writer's Chronicle or somesuch writerly publication. 

The article would have to be written over the summer, of course, because I have so much grading to do right now. Grading made evident by the length of this post -- its length shows to what lengths I'm really reluctant to catch up on grading and make myself feel better about the whole deal. We're less than two weeks away from the end of the semester, fer chrissakes. You'd think I'd just buckle down. 

Well, buckle down I will. Now that the mayhem of the creative writing festival is over (which went very well -- Cornelius Eady was really good, and we were so lucky to have him there), and my hysteria over this lecture is over -- my brain felt fried by all the adrenaline flowing through it yesterday -- I shall do my best to get my poor students their papers. Somehow. I have, like, two hours to grade a literal mountain of papers once I get to school. I don't think it's all going to be finished by the time 12:30 p.m. -- when I meet my class -- rolls around, but I'll damn well have something done.


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