Showing posts from March, 2018

The Pressure of Silence, Poems Like People, and the Pleasures of Digging Snow

"Much contemporary verse is colloquial, prosaic, apparently 'free,' going about its business without rhyme or meter or stanzaic pattern of any kind. But such poems, to survive, need two essential components: first, their makers need to have truly mastered line-break, which is simply to say that he or she can keenly feel the pressure of silence; second, the poem must act upon you in a way that resembles a human encounter. For alone, in your memory, you, you , what's the difference -- to the cells, to the synapses -- between a poem you remember and a person you recall? You want lamps to go on."  --from the essay/chapter "Black" in On Poetry by Glyn Maxwell On Poetry is one of the best books on prosody. It's more entertaining and far less technical than Robert B. Shaw's "Blank Verse," but both books together provide a fairly robust (and readable) education in poetry. This quote is another pulled from my last journal, part of my &qu

Necessary Reminders & Recalibrations

"You have to simply love writing, and you have to remind yourself often that you love it."  -- Susan Orlean The last thing I want to do is turn this blog into a listicle repository of inspirational quotes written down in my journal, but this week I'm focusing on this little soundbite from Orlean, a New Yorker staff writer and book author, because it's something I've been wrestling with. In short, I've been trying to do the latter -- to remind myself that I love writing, and to focus on that.  Also: Accolades and publication are not writing. Accolades and publication are not writing. Accolades and publication are not writing. Another reminder that I need. The rejection from the residencies, coupled with the sabbatical debacle, have dealt a large blow to my ego, sure, but they've dealt the largest blow to my psyche, because they represent having less time for something that makes up a huge part of my identity (or at least, how I identi

A Little About Susan Sontag and Lot About Rejection: A Report from the Bowels of AWP

"There is a great deal that either has to be given up or taken away from you if you are going to succeed in writing a body of work." -- Susan Sontag Another quote written down in my (former) journal, along with a bunch of other writers speaking to the power of habit when it comes to creation. I must have collected them from some interweb source -- maybe Brain Pickings again, or some other writer's blog. Anyway, Steinbeck's in there, and Samuel Johnson, and Italo Calvino, but Sontag's striking a chord the most. I've been feeling kind of beat up lately, like something's been taken away from me, but it hasn't really been taken away from me in the way that Sontag's talking about here. She's talking about sacrifice. I haven't really sacrificed anything. Well, that's not true. I've sacrificed a lot but in the wrong places and probably for the wrong reasons. I suppose that's what's got me low. I fucked up, like in a big way,

Sunshine and Blue Sky, Tsvetaeva on the Concurrence of Souls, and the Art of Letter Writing

This week I'm late to the blog. I was late arriving to Florida, too -- I was supposed to arrive Friday with my children but we were unable to fly out until Saturday because of the Nor'easter. Other than our travel plans being interrupted, though, we were lucky. Long Island was hit with some rain and wind but nothing catastrophic. Nothing like what's being reported in other areas of the country. It's kind of guilt-inducing how nice it is down here. Windy and a touch on the cool side, but I'm not complaining. After the oppressive cloud cover of the last week up north, it's rejuvenating to see clear blue sky and sun. A. met us at the airport, and now we're all ensconced at his parents' condominium for the next few days. On Wednesday A. and I will leave for Tampa so I can attend AWP and his parents are taking the kids to Disney for two days and a night. (They are brave and maybe foolish grandparents -- do they know what they are getting into? --