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On Unforseen Beginnings

Hello all—I would say it’s been a minute, but I feel like I say that every time I post. It’s been a while? It’s been a few weeks at any rate. I’d title this post “On Endings” but that sounds cryptic and decidedly NOT the vibe. The blog isn’t closing its doors, it’s chugging along. A more accurate moniker would be On Unforseen Beginnings, so that it shall be.

I think I’ve been fairly transparent about things being busy lately, at least on the Twittersphere. Things have been busy, and decidedly not in the best ways: unforeseen circumstances related to my being mugged at AWP last year have led to me having to potentially go to Philadelphia to court (AGAIN) to deal with it. That means my carefully planned schedule for the next week is entirely shot to hell, and I find myself scrambling to give people notice, canceling my classes for the week, begging people for a little bit of grace. My personal life isn’t in great shape either: this week someone notified me they didn’t have the capacity or desire to be friends any longer, and while I absolutely appreciate the mature conversation we were able to have about it, apologies were made, and we part on no bad terms, I’d be lying if I said it helped the mental strain I’ve been under recently. Nostalgia is a tricky bitch at the best of times, and it’s from that where the brunt of the sadness comes. But we’ve grown into different people, who need different things. It’s sad, and cliche to say, but ultimately I understand it’s for the best.

The plus side? This breakup of sorts has led to an explosion of creative energy, a total battering ram to the creative blockages I’ve been feeling lately. A new manuscript is beginning to take shape, and if nothing else, for better or for worse (and to my eternal embarrassment,) writing is my way of processing. The project is elegiac: poems about the speaker’s grandfather’s cancer mingle with poems about New York, about faith, about romantic warmth and the constant, concerning warming of our planet: think of a sapphic Donald Hall borderline-ecocritical type of poetics. And if that description hasn’t sold you on the potential, I don’t know what will. (I kid, I kid.) It’s just exciting. The first of the new manuscript poems is set to come out in the next couple of weeks. Two more poems from it were picked up yesterday night. Here’s hoping this signals an upward trajectory.

To feel in tune with my work again and with a depth of feeling has been refreshing and reassuring. I thought for a time that maybe Bad Animal was the only book I had in me. My mother, trying to comfort me in the depths of my totally overblown existential despair, said to me a few months ago, “Maybe you only have one book in you. That’s okay!” You try telling that to my aggressive and thoroughly exhausting to even look at five year plan, which plans for a minimum of five poetry collections before 35, including a collection of short stories or a novel, including two plays at least on top of that. Combine that with another MFA degree or PhD degree, and you’ll say I’ve gone entirely insane. My eyes have always been bigger than my stomach, but I’ve always had the sensation I’ll run out of time before I’m able to do all I want to do writing-wise. I’ve never been satisfied with sitting still and letting the work take its time. Hard to be one for instant gratification in a discipline which so requires patience: patience as people read your manuscripts for consideration in journals or presses, patience as you tinker with drafts and throw things aside, patience for the perfect reader to come along and instinctively get your work. Who knows if this manuscript will be anything? Right now, I’m putting no expectations on it other than an end of April deadline to have a draft completed by. I’m letting myself be led by the poems instead of trying to control them at every turn; I think that’s where I’ve slipped up in the past, and in the general theme of trying to be a more present person in both my relationships and creative work, I’m trying to circumvent the issues of the past now. I don’t know how successful I’ll ultimately be, but I’m really trying here. If nothing else, I’m really consciously trying to be a more engaged friend, poet, etc.

In other news, in unrelated news, the cover for Bad Animal is done and it’s gorgeous. Chef’s kiss. Sublime. Feral. Beautiful and brutal, which is EXACTLY what I wanted for it. Keep your eyes peeled for a reveal in the near future! To that end, I’ll be reading from Bad Animal at the Write Bloody/Riot in Your Throat Press AWP offsite at Vermillion March 9th 7-9. Maybe even a poem or two from the current project (if you hold your mouth right, as my father would say.) Come on by and say hello if you’d like! Very much looking forward to it.

Recent reading: Anne Sexton: a Biography by Diane Wood Middlebrook. Revolutionary and brilliant and so complicated in its portrayal of Sexton. I’ve been consumed and inspired by it. Would highly recommend.

Yours, and Happy Sunday!


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