May 8, 2012

Unsuitable for Public

Lately I've been prone to weeping a little in public. I wept a bit when I came to the end of Alice Munro's "The Bear Came Over the Mountain." I wept a bit when I heard about Maurice Sendak passing away. I wept a bit when I read this piece. Frankly, I don't think I'm suitable to be out in public anymore.


I'm giving a reading this Thursday! Then another in Milwaukee the following Friday. First order of business was picking out my outfit. Now that's taken care of, onto the poems.


I've been thinking about intelligence in poetry lately. Mostly that my poems are not 'intelligent' enough. This semester I've been reading smarter books, trying to push myself to write poems that are driven less by the heart and are more cerebral. And I've enjoyed the variety to my reading this has caused and have been given a new set of poets to admire.

But fuck it. I've hated writing that way. I write the poems I write because it's what I would want to read. Yes, my poems wear their little black hearts on their sleeves, and my work doesn't push against the confines of language or challenge the perimeter of our linguistic understanding. I admire poets who have done this kind of work well. I think it's important to always be pushing yourself to new goals, and to always be evolving as an artist. But I wasn't drawn to poetry for scholarly reasons. I was drawn to poetry because it made me more human.


Ha. I can't even write a defense of my work without becoming over-sentimental.


I've been reading through Legitimate Dangers, which is an anthology of poets whose first books came out between 1999 and 2006. It's a great anthology and the work is diverse and exciting. One thing I noticed is that just about every poet in there had their first book published when they were in their 30s, 40s, or 50s. It made me a bit more aware of how young I still am, and how young I am in relation to writing poetry. I've only been writing poetry seriously since 2007. I have a theory about how my favorite books take a decade to write, and I'd like to write the best book I can, so I have more time. A lot more time. I can be patient.

But of course, if my book gets taken in the next year, the first thing I'll do is delete this post.