Find them here.
Have you always wanted to purchase a copy of my chapbook, Philomela, but didn’t know how? YOU’RE IN LUCK! Copies are $10. Free shipping. I’ll sign it with my name and something Latin-y. You’ll be overjoyed to receive it. Comment below or email me at taramaemulroy at gmail.com with your paypal e-mail address. 🙂
HERE’S A POEM FROM IT:
Mother, he is a gentleman.
He is a builder with bricks of moonlight.
He knows the secret places of the earth.
He washes the sleep from the eyes of the souls.
He lets one look upon beauty.
He lets me tell him I hate him.
In the mornings, I gather berries and apples.
I scrubs his back with rind.
I weave spider-spit and eyelash.
He talks in his sleep pudding, fire, discus,
the things he misses.
He breathes, Your body is my orchard.
I am the undulating grass.
I am a field of wheat he parts with his fingers.
Poppies bloom in my veins.
When he kisses me, he tastes pomegranate.
The night crawls nearer.
The moans of the dead roll and swell.
Mother, we are well.
At the recommendation of an acquaintance, I purchased The Happiness Project One-Sentence Journal: A Five-Year Record. It’s a thick compact blue book that promises to help you capture 1,825 happy moments.
Each page begins with the date, a quote, and five sets of blanks next to five 20__. It’s enough space for maybe a couple of short sentences.
It arrived on September 16th. I diligently recorded my happy that evening. Then September 17th, yesterday, rolled around. The day had been rough. My six week old twins were cluster feeding, refusing to sleep for the entirety (or even more than 30 minutes) of their scheduled nap times, screaming every time we tried to move them into their cribs, and then refused to settle easily after their bath and night feeding. I crawled into bed last night after holding a baby for near on 30 minutes while it wailed in my ear and saw the blue book on my nightstand. I tried to rack my brain for one happy moment. Just one. We all have one each day, right?
I had had several moments of contentment throughout the day. Like when I drove the twins home from Babies R Us and spent an extra 20 minutes driving around side streets and residential neighborhoods to keep them asleep a little longer while I listened to a podcast I like. Like when I’d fed my son that morning and he’d wrapped his tiny fist around my finger and clutched it the entire time. Like when my husband and I took them out to dinner with us, so we could go out and feel sort of like we were on a date and I’d fed him bits of a cinnamon roll dessert. But happy? Truly happy? Not really. I could only record THE TRULY HAPPY MOMENT.
Granted, it was probably my perspective. Content probably equals happy (it is a synonym after all). I’m pessimistic by nature and I’ve always skewed towards the depressed writer aesthetic, but this also is such a perfect metaphor for writing in general and how it is for me when I’m stuck.
I tell myself, “Write just one line of a poem or even a whole poem if you can swing it. It can be terrible. Won’t even take you very long. Just do it.” But since I’ve had a hiatus from writing (aka pre and postpartum), I get stuck, not even able to write down a word without wanting to erase it. And in this child-induced writing drought or what I’m making to be a child-induced writing drought, a measly line could mean a whole lot to restoring me to that creative self. It would maybe even lift my creative self’s esteem a bit because now she feels covered in spit and wonders if she’ll ever stir some words together and get a poem again.
This is all to say: I should start with a sentence or a line. An ugly one and work my way up (or out or through). A sentence or a line is reasonable. It’s possible.
- Have a child.
*Scamper off to a room with a door with a lock on it or hide in plain sight in the driver’s seat of your practical four door sedan or seated at your dining room table and have a tumble with some words. Writing is your secret; cherish it. Go to bed late. Wake up early. Type the word “wilderness” on a blank document and then come back to it 10 days/weeks/months later and wonder where you were going with that, but shrug and go somewhere new and impossible instead. Be okay with being underwhelming. Be okay with a sink of dirty dishes. Fall asleep/rage/moan/weep at the page. Stare at the empty page wondering if words will ever again bubble up to fill the space. They may not then. Check back later. Leave space in your heart for emptiness. See it as slow fill as you clock your child breaking his curfew again. See everything as a creative experience, spiritual fodder for the day when you arrive at the page and something finally erupts from your fingertips. Find your tribe of other parent-writers or writer-parents. Commiserate. Push each other. Send each other poems you have written or someone else has. Stay engaged. Don’t get flabby. Write everyday. Write when inspiration punches you in the gut. Write when you have exactly one minute of free time. When the writing feels moth-eaten and clichéd, put it away and come back to it later. Try to love your writing as tenderly as you love your child. See it as flawed and needing room to grow. Furiously write down the phrases that come to you however they do (the creative gods, a toothpaste commercial) and keep them like a crow’s collection of candy wrappers and paper clips. Peruse through them even when you’re sure nothing will come to you. Sometimes you just need to check in. Remember the wildness of writing, how putting words together can be an exhilarating adventure. Parenting is like that too. You embark on an epic quest each day to make sure the children in your care stay alive and loved in a cruel unbearable world. Make your writing live in the same harsh world. Coerce the embers of it into a roaring fire. Don’t let it go out.