Tuesday, January 17, 2012

366 Days - FIMO


I made an impression of myself in clay tonight,

a self-portrait of sorts.

My maleable alter ego.

I wish it was so easy to shape-shift,

to make myself into something I am not.

Raven haired

green eyes instead of blue





It’s often difficult not to catalog my faults

my daily blunders

and imperfections.

The alien was my best attempt

at disclosing my true self--

a sometimes imposter--

a foreigner in my own body.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

366 Days - Don't Be Tossed Away

So it is very deep to be a writer. It is the deepest thing I know. And I think, if not this, nothing--it will be my way in the world for the rest of my life. I have to remember this again and again.--Natalie Goldberg

I figured I'd better check in. I mean I made this big pronouncement about writing a poem a day for 366 days (I think I said 365 but this is a Leap Year so lucky us, we've got an extra day this year) and then . . . nothing.

But it hasn't been nothing. It's been 12 days and I've written a poem every single day. And it's not easy. In fact some days it's darn near like pulling teeth. I find myself whining to myself, "What was I thinking? I have nothing to say. I can't write for shit. I can't think of a topic. Aaargh." And then, I write.

In Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg tells us, don't be tossed away. Don't let the little voices in your head sway you from your goal. Don't be tossed away. Understand your mind and don't listen when it comes up with a million excuses and insecurities. Don't fear failure or success. Just do it. Don't be tossed away.

I was already in the habit of treating my writing as an exercise. After 3 semesters at The Writer's Studio in New York I have learned that not everything (in fact most of what I write) is not precious. It's just an exercise. It's helping me learn to be a better writer. By studying writing, by reading as a writer and not as a reader, by practicing writing, I am becoming a better writer. Maybe I've used one line that will speak to me again. Maybe I turned a phrase differently and another poem will blossom later. Maybe there is simply one word I can use as a springboard on Day 244. My mantra is always, it's just an exercise. Anything else is a bonus.

Another bonus is that I've already found myself looking at the world differently. I mean, I think I've always been the kind of person who notices and appreciates the little things, but now I do so even more. I stop myself multiple times as I glide through my day and wonder, "That's interesting. How would it feel to write about it? What would my first line be? What would my last line be?" I find myself looking at my world more closely, valuing the smallest moments, welcoming a deeper acknowledgment of life and the way I choose to honor it through my writing.

And so I will keep writing so that I won't be tossed away. Here's one I thought I'd share. . . .

I Am Not This Poem

These words do not define me.

They do not even exist, really,

abandoned quickly on the page.

I you we are merely a moment

in time

in space

Carl's blue dot.

These words are a river

coursing through my universe

in a hurry to meet your horizon.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Word for the Year

I've never been one who makes resolutions. I used to half-heartedly try to do it every New Year's Eve. Exercise, eat right, less drinking, more structure, blah blah blah, but by January 2nd I was already cheating and cringing every time I caught myself in the mirror. The last decade or so I stopped trying.

For the past few years I've watched from the sidelines as some of my friends have adopted a new tradition of embracing a word for the year instead. A word to live by, so to speak. I admired this idea. And still, I was fairly certain it was just a sneaky way to get me to make a resolution.

And it is. Sort of. But the idea intrigues me anyway. So this year, I'm choosing the word PRESENT, or in reality the phrase "to be present" and I'm combining it with . . . you guessed it, a resolution! I am going to write a poem a day for the entire year. I won't be sharing them here in this space, not all of them anyway, that's too much pressure. And a lot of them are going to be crap. I mean total garbage. But the point isn't so much the poem that transpires, but the new way I'll be looking at the world. To be present in the moment, in the minutia, in the everydayness of my life. To start seeing things differently. To ground myself in my present, rather than looking back at the past (with regret) or projecting into a future I can never see.

Reflecting on the smallest details.

Delighting in my surroundings.

Savoring them in a different way, as I leave a trail of poems behind me.

My friend, Allison, has agreed to do it with me. And being accountable to someone else is HUGE in my book. It will help keep me going on the days I feel like I can't pick up a pen. I'll picture her sitting in her treehouse scribbling away and I'll jump to it, even if it's the last thing I want to do because I won't want to disappoint her. And then suddenly I'll realize I don't want to disappoint me either.

I like it.

It's already January 2nd. Two poems written. Still looking myself in the eye in that mirror...