“The poem is the lie we tell to reveal the truth.”
It’s a comment/quote that came back on my packet .5 and I’m a little stuck on that, but not in a bad way. In a very satisfying, mind-winding way. This is the first semester in the program that a mentor has given me such specific direction. I’m not dismissing the approaches of my previous mentors, who both seemed perfect for where I was at that place in my progression. Extremely Academic followed by a polar opposite open door to consider all possibilities. But this time, I’ve got someone who has listened to me and tailored quite specific assignments to lead me on a particular path.
In some ways, I very much thrive on (even need) that kind of direction to urge me forward. And I’m following his direction despite the fact that, at times, it’s going against my instincts. We came to mutual agreement about the topic of my craft paper for the term. After the submission of my first draft, which was a hot mess of trying to define my topic in different ways over and over, he suggested to me a possible structure, with subtopics.
This week I tried to pull apart what I had written and put it back together under those five headings. It felt wrong. There’s overlap and somethings that don’t fit anywhere at all. It led to me cutting entire paragraphs and putting them aside. I’m not used to writing longer pieces so each word and sentence and paragraph and page seems as precious as clean water in a third world country. I don’t want to waste anything I’ve squeezed out and collected.
Then I finally forced myself to get down to the real work which is evaluating a set of poets and the voices that emerge in their poems. The first of which is Robert Creeley who was, upon a examination, a god-damned genius. Open any page of his current “final” collection and behold, brilliance. It’s hard to pick poems to use as examples as they are all shining examples of the work and life of the man, and his poetic voice.
Cheating a little bit, I returned to the essays that I wrote in my first term that included his work and used that as a jumping off point. I quickly moved from that to re-evaluation based on my sub-topics and found a wealth of other things to comment on and include. If I incorporate the entirety of three poems I’m using as examples, I now have 12 pages on Creeley.
Keeping tabs on the situation, I’ve already written 10 pages (some of which will be lost in revision) and 12 new pages. I’m over 2/3ds the way to my goal and haven’t even started on the other 3 or 4 poets we discussed using in the paper. Yowza! I thought it was going to be painful to try and write a 30-45 page paper on anything and now I’m all like “this thing is heading for like 50-60 pages”.
I’m going to have to cut and compress and in my wildest dreams I never thought that would be the case. Life just amazes me sometimes.
Anyway, so I’m going to be continuing that quest this next week as the next draft is due at the end of this week, along with the next installment of creative work which my mentor maintains is where most of my energy should be going. And believe me, it certainly feels like it is.
It’s waking up in the middle of the night with flashes of phrases that won’t let me sleep until I write them down. It’s driving in the car and suddenly dictating something into my phone. It’s eating or showering or cleaning the house and having to rush suddenly to my notebook to scribble something down. I’ve experienced this at times before but not like this. This is exhausting.
I brought my notebook to lunch with a friend a few weeks ago and he said “what’s that for”. I said that it was for writing things down in case he said something brilliant (really it was for if either of us did).
I have been quite exhausted lately indeed, zapped of energy sometimes before noon. But if the writing is the culprit, I’m ok with that. It goes back to my comment about it all being as precious as clean water. I want to collect all that I can and store it up for later.
The other thing that this mentor is allowing me to be, or giving me permission to be to the point of encouragement is messy. I’m not a messy person and my writing has always been somewhat controlled with a purpose and intent from the start. Now, I’m just writing all these things down, scribbling them with reckless abandon, on the page without a worry that it’s good or bad or organized or serves any purpose at all. That, my friends, is quite freeing.
I’m allowing myself to write the lie. To fabricate some situation beyond what actually is, and if you boil all of that down, it’s as true of a thing as the fact that the sun rises every day. That’s incredible.
Given all of that, I may go into a bit of a hiding-hole this week, focussing on my second poet of choice and transcribing my creative chaos into electronic format.
It’s Sunday today and for the record, my stats are shit again and I don’t care. How can one care when things feel so magical?
That’s enough walking and wandering for one day. See you on the other side.
Let it Rain,