fighting against stasis

I feel like I’m in the middle of a drought, but when I really get down to it, I’m not. I’ve been writing, but each act of putting words on paper feels like trudging through muck. Yesterday, I felt a little uplifted when I saw that my poem “Love Fevers” (draft notes here) is up at Waccamaw and shares space with some fantastic writers. This year, I’ve only had two poetry acceptances and plenty more rejections, so it was very nice to see my work up again.

It might be too that I’m in a period of waiting, and waiting sometimes feels like mourning. I’m waiting to hear back from two jobs (both I should hear back from by May 1st), a book contest which is the last one my book is currently at, and several journals that have had my work for a very long time (the most being 342 days!).

On April 14th, I decided to start doing another poem-a-day thing to try to push myself into action. The first day, I randomly chose to write a prose poem that started with the tagline, “In this poem, I’m…”, so the past ten poems have had that same form and opening. What I’ve liked about this exercise is it’s given me some space to imagine: I’ve been a Latin teacher, a gifted carpenter, a perilously thin woman, an obese man.

The thing I love about doing a poem-a-day thing is I can’t rely on the old go-tos: dark farm, myths, whatever; I have to come up with new stuff because  it’s easy for the old wells to run dry if I draw from them every time. It also gives me new work to play with when, for whatever reason, I start to hate that I wrote older than a month ago (which is about where I’m at now).

My real life interjects itself into these poems more and more too when before I always kept a carefully crafted wall between it and my poems. For example, I’ve been keeping track of the April 16th disappearance of a Memphis teacher. Today her body has been discovered and her estranged husband arrested. As a teacher, especially one in Memphis, I hate to read these kind of stories, and in my “In this poem, I’m…” poem from today, I’m a woman who wakes up at the bottom of a pond after being left for dead by her husband.

Things I need to think about in no certain order:

  • My book. (After I hear back from the last contest it’s currently at (the sixth it’s been sent to), I can immediately send it off to some contests with a due date of April 30th/May 1st, send it through another round of edits, or let it hibernate until the summer months when I might feel a little more inclined to look at it again. Book contests are hard. I take the contest results a little harder than normal submissions because it’s not just a packet of 3-5 poems, but 50! Maybe I just need to keep sending it out and the pain will lessen??) 
  • These new poems. (Work toward a second book? a chapbook? Cut my full-length down into a chapbook and start sending it out?)
  • These essays. (Two of my CNF essays have been published so far this year, and I’ve got another out right now, but what to do with them? A friend of mine suggested I think about expanding one into a book, but yikes! Maybe I’ll just keep writing and see what happens.)

I’m slogging and whining. I think I probably just need a hug…

All of you stay well.

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