art · fun · letting go · poetry · recovery · school

The Reluctant Poet

I had the wonderful opportunity yesterday to sit in a park
with one of my best girl friends in the SF sunshine and shade and download the
mental vomit of my thesis bananas.
She had some interesting perspective too. She said that it
seems like I’m meant to be a poet right now. That I’ve tried to hand in and do
something else, and I’m being blocked, and that perhaps, I’m supposed to write
poetry right now.
I don’t want to. I have ALL these “thoughts” and “opinions”
about “poets” and “poetry.” I can’t tell you how rankled I am at conversations
that have included the following after I reluctantly reveal what it is I study at school:
Oh, I hate poetry. (my dentist’s receptionist…)
I don’t really like poetry.
I don’t know any poetry.
What are you going to do with that?
There’s no money in that.
Uh, I don’t know anything about poetry.
I hated poetry in high school.
I think I read Walt Whitman once.
I. Don’t. Give. A. Fuck. I don’t give a fuck what you think
about poetry. And, further, I ought to not give a fuck at the moment what I think about poetry.
I have some messed up ideas and beliefs about poetry. Like it’s not cool;
nobody likes it; nobody cares. Why can’t I be a painter, or a musician, or some
other “acceptable” form of artist? Why do I have to write like that?
So, yesterday before I met with my friend, I went into the
nearby indie bookstore, and I went to the poetry section – which although
toward the back, was not underlit (!). And I began to pick up titles that
interested me. I got to put some back … skip over the Walt Whitman, and … buy two I’d skimmed and thought I’d like. I bought two books of poetry.
I never buy books. Ever. (Well, unless you count the Harry
, but they’re always OUT at the
library!) I therefore never buy books of poetry. I’ve had the opportunity
through school these last 2 years to read a lot of books of poetry, and buy a
lot of books of poetry. But, they’re not “for me.” They’re not ones I’ve chosen,
ones I’ve looked at and been sparked by. My hand, like Moses, was being pushed
away from the gold. And I burned my tongue — I lost my taste for it.
I’ve been so steeped in poetry, and the language of poetry,
and the analysis of poetry, and the conversations around poetry that I could
probably puke enough letters to make
Therefore, it is not suprising that I have not been all that
enthused to reapproach the project I’d vaguely been working on. I know what I
was working on. I know that it’s raw, and honest, and revealing, and
vulnerable. I know that it talks about trauma, and I don’t really want to talk
about trauma. I know some of it is revealing of my parents’ human fallibility and I don’t want to come off as a thirty year old woman blaming her parents. 
My friend asked me what the work wants or needs right now. I said … it wants to be honored. I thought it would
be enough to write some of it out, have some folks read it in class, and shove it away as random pages in random drawers. But apparently this work wants to be held differently.
Apparently, it wants more of a laying to rest than that. That’s what the work
is. It’s an honoring of the past. Like the purpose of a funeral to provide a
space and a container for grief and letting go, this work wants to
be compiled, honored, and set to rest. Not left as it is, scattered parts
of a whole.
Which I suppose is its own metaphor.
So, I, the reluctant poet, got to read some really good,
funny, poignant, clever, honest poetry from my newly purchased book yesterday, one which I bought with my own sense of attraction and desire, not assigned, not suggested reading, not a professor’s newest book. I got to sit on that train with a slight grin, reading art with a perspective shift about my own work that I’m not completely on board with yet, but which apparently is happening anyway.

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