2019-11-25 Writers Workshop Whammy

Where are we at today? Ah yes, in writers workshop where my poetry is being critiqued by an eclectic group of undergrad students. Most of whom, might I add, have had more exposure and experience than I in studies about literature, poetry, and writing in general. I got my undergrad in computer science, so what do I know anyway?!

One answer to that is that I know some things which only life experience can teach (and I have about 20 years on all these kids). I digress.

I submitted a poem to workshop which was a tribute to Terrance Hayes. Mr. Hayes is a poet whose most recent book, American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin, is (in my opinion) a masterpiece. If the words “tribute” and “masterpiece” do not make it abundantly clear what my position is, then I’m truly lost. Anyway, so I wrote this poem – a double sonnet, which I worked for quite a while on to get the sound and sense of just right. And might I add that I am proud of the way it turned out and would be honored if it ever reached the eyes and mind of the person who it was written for. I mean, I truly did toil over each line and phrase and combination of words.

To the critics who made me well up inside and out with angst over hearing their impressions and criticisms, I will concede a few points. There are word choices I did not realize would be offensive. Mind you, it’s a group of all white students save for one gal who remained silent the entire session (except for saying she was staying out of it). A couple of ill-placed line breaks which made the interpretation of my “white” poem seem racist. There I said it. That was the main tension in the room, that my poem was taking on a subject in a way that was offensive and inappropriate.

That somehow, in my attempt to praise Mr. Hayes for his skill and mastery of the poem and of language, I came across as crossing some line that shouldn’t be crossed. To me, hearing these comments was most disturbing because I was not trying to play a race card at all. I was not trying to use his blackness or my whiteness to any end. I used (sparingly) a little of his language and that was taken as appropriation. In the poem I was basically saying that he has done something I could never do and that I can never truly understand his words because his history and experience are so different from my own, but I can try. That I want to try and understand.

Right. In the poem I’m literally saying I want to try, I have to try, for my sake to make something more, to try and learn from what he has to offer and empathize with his plight. It is a poem about love of language and bowing down to the skill of another.. and if anything, the need in this hour of human kind for a little understanding across boundaries. Good gawd.

To be fair, there were a few comments that were counter to all the negative and one person said it was “the best poem they have ever read in workshop”. I think it was this differing of opinion that made people want to keep talking about the subject. In any case, The discussion ran long and the class was due for a break so the prof said to cut it there and take 5. I took my 5 to the bathroom on the 3rd floor of the fine arts building and arrived back after I had regained my composure (which took longer than the 5 minutes allotted).

I’ve never cried during workshop before and I’ve been in workshop with Kate Gale for god sakes. What on earth am I doing letting these comments get to me. I didn’t have the time or space to put together final comments so I basically just said something about my intentions. That It was meant as a tribute and high praise and was not at all meant to be offensive. I will probably change those line breaks and maybe another word or two here or there, but as for the rest? I’ll stand by it.

It kind of makes me think about that Robert Frost poem, Road Not Taken, which was written as a lighthearted jest to his friend who often lamented taking the wrong path. That poems true interpretation and intention has been argued countless times in the last 100 years (originally published in 1916), and at the heart of that, lies the secret of poetry – which is that it has layers of meaning and is always subject to interpretation in the mind of the reader. The meaning can be opaque and perhaps, in some cases, it’s better that way.

Now I’m not comparing myself to Robert Frost (ha!), but I would say that if my poem stirs that much discussion and controversy, then I might be on to something. If one measure of a good poem is that it makes a person remember and elicits a conversation long after it is over and done, then look how this poem might be a huge hit.

My only counter to that is that I don’t actually think it’s that edgy. I really don’t. In a way, I think these workshop mates of mine are just looking for something to be critical about. Still (as I said) I will revisit the poem again to make a few adjustments. I suppose the only true fix to this predicament is for me to have it accepted for publication. I should start doing more of that anyway.

Perhaps one day I will be posting a “conclusion” to this post in which I’m announcing my success. A girl can dream anyway right.

Ok.. that’s it for today. I’m over it.. and out!

~Miss SugarCookie

2018-06-29 The Railcar Cheeseburger and Other Random Unrelated Drama.. 4 🍔👍🏻

Yesterday I met one of my former coworkers for a happy hour drink at a place called the Railcar. I probably meet up with Her about once every six weeks or so. We first met at my last job and as fate would have it, we started on the exact same day in 2012. We were on different teams but got it off pretty much right away.

She was very much my confidant, for both work related rants and personal issues. Toward the end of my relationship with Matt she was the one who said something that I took to heart. One afternoon I had had a lunch Meetup with him where my already broken heart was crushed into a thousand small shards because I said “I love you” and he walked away leaving me unrequited. It was such a stabbing pain and I cried my eyes out all the way back to the office. Arriving back to work, Sam and I crossed paths at the front doors. She recognized my state (trying to pull that shit in and get it back together) and she said to me “..you deserve better. You deserve someone who can’t wait to talk to you everyday, someone who is excited to see you..” There was more to it, but in my delicate state, that’s all I remembered and it finally sank in.

That was a turning point for me. A huge step forward acknowledging the truth in her words. Of course now I know how it feels, to have a person who wants me like that in my life. It’s glorious.

Anyway, Sam outlasted me at that job but in the end it was very much the same end to the same story. They use you until they loose you. Endless human capital out there in the world apparently, but a terrible way to operate. Her story is not mine to tell but I can say this much… she’s worlds happier where she is now. And what’s more, the weight of the world and the fate of the company is no longer hanging in the balance and depending on the success of pushing past limits week in and week out. We do our jobs well and then we clock out. Get in and get out and leave the drama in the cube.

Well Hell – is this a post about my life struggles or a cheeseburger review or what?😜 Getting to the point now…

So we met at Railcar to do our regular catch up session and tell the stories of the day. It was good. I’ve had their Happy hour cheeseburger before and have been remiss in actually writing about it. What I can say is that it’s one worth repeating.

It’s a little smaller than a normal restaurant burger. It’s bigger than a slider but not nearly the size of that half pound beast I had at Garbos. It’s because it’s their happy hour special and just a slightly smaller version of their dinner entree offering..

red top farms ground short rib, bacon apple jam, red onion, romaine lettuce, brie cheese, garlic aioli

One thing I would comment on right away is that it is really tough to grill a smaller party and get it right. So easy to overcook, but this one is spot on. The only change I requested from the standard was swapping cheeses. I had cheddar instead of Gouda. Typically I would say hold the lettuce too but since this is not my first Rodeo at the Railcar, I know they don’t overdo it like they do at some places. Some places pile on the lettuce like they think you wanted a salad instead of beef. Either that or there’s not a lot of substance and they are making the burger look bigger using a giant stack of green. Totally unnecessary. Railcar gets that. There’s just enough lettuce to add some fresh texture and crunch and it serves as an excellent topping to hold onto the sauce, which is quite tasty in its own right. A little sweet and a little savory… nothing at all akin to ketchup and mustard which is a good thing.

The cheese was melty and the bun was slightly toasted. My only complaint would be that it could use a slightly larger portion of cheese. Being a happy hour treat it’s served solo so at some point I’ll have to try the full entree. In any case, it’s a solid 4 and I’ll definitely be back for more.

(I’d go back again anyway since this spot is a regular meet-up location for Sam and I). 😊

Until Next Bite,
~Miss SugarCookie

2017-10-21 Have This Instead of That

Yesterday was another very satisfying day. It was a nice balance of all the things I love to do. The only thing a little lacking in my week this week has been sleep. One would think that as much as I harp on sleep being so important, I would have found a way to stick to those “better decisions”. Last night was the 3rd night in a row I had good intentions but just could not quite get to sleep “on time”.

It’s tough when you have teenagers and their timetable for sleep is “I’ll get to it when I get to it”. I’ve read that kids need more sleep, but hell, when you have that much energy how can that possibly be true? Despite late nights, they got up each morning in good spirits and ready to take on the day. So I ask “Where can I get some of what she had?” 😉

I can’t quite put the blame for my staying up to late on them though, I’ve had my own agendas. One day I procrastinated getting my financials together for a meeting the next day and found myself in a pile of paperwork at midnight. One day I was home late and then had conversations with the kids and talked for quite a while with Simon on the phone. Last night it was writing. I had a goal to write a poem about “Love and Justice” for the specific purpose of submitting to a publication and so I did just that but it took me really close to the midnight hour before I gave up (didn’t finish) and went to sleep.

However, I did decide to sacrifice something else this morning for the sake of sleeping in. I skipped my morning exercise routine. “GASP”. When you just have so many things you want to do, sometimes you have to switch it up and give other activities some attention. I’m sure missing out on the workout will not have any affect whatsoever on my overall master plan. Despite how much I have been really digging that “me” time at the gym, I didn’t really miss it this morning.

In truth, there’s no way I could sleep in, fit that in, AND make it to the writing workshop at 11:30. The alternate plan, now in action, was to wake up when I wake up, finish my poem, and then get ready to head downtown. So far so good (I’m awake and finished the poem – yay!). So really, instead of flexing my physical muscles today I will be flexing my mental one and doing something else I really love to do. This switch-a-roo is going to continue throughout the day and I will probably not even have time to get my steps “GASP GASP”.

The workshop I am going to is being conducted by the same two women who did the poetry reading I went to a few nights ago. They are allowing 50 participants and I signed up over a month ago. The last one I went to had about 10 people in it, so if it is a packed house like they are saying it will be, it is going to be a very different experience.

Time to get going now. There are parenting things that also need attention. It is Saturday and the kids are still sleeping. No wonder they don’t have issues staying up so late. 😃

Ready to Roll,
~Miss SugarCookie