I received verification that my email subscribers have been successfully transfered to substack. I want to thank you in advance for continuing to read! (Please check your spam filter if you don’t get a post from substack today.)

I have no intention of charging for subscriptions to the process journal, new poetry, or play information – that’s not why I have decided to make the move.

A nice advantage to substack is that it will allow you to pick and choose what you want to read.
Only my process journal? Only new poetry? No problem: get less of what you don’t want in your inbox by filling out your account preferences.

I will still continue to cross post to LinkedIn.

Thank you all for sticking with me these past few years as I have struggled to find my direction forward.

All the best,

Moving to Substack

I apologize to anyone who thinks the substack registration is a pain (it’s still free, btw), but I am moving there. I like the note and chat features and believe it might be more social than the diminished blogosphere of decades gone by.

I am transfering the email list to substack, so if you already get this as an email, you don’t have to do anything – it is also very easy to opt out of one or all of the newsletters if you don’t want the process journal entries, new poems or play synopses.

Mad Orphan Lit. at substack

Embracing the Fog Creatively

Yesterday I charged my dead reMarkable. I am ready to write poetry again, despite the chemo-induced fog I’m still experiencing.

A person can find meaning in fog. It can be very soothing actually, fog filling the little depressions in the landscape. Depression is the actual scientific name for places where the fog gathers here on the Jæren bogs . No metaphor intended. All truths converge at some point – maybe language with the landscape especially.

I delivered the final draft of the Lear adaptation on time. I don’t think I could be prouder of myself, or more appreciative of the opportunity. I am excited to see what the director does with it. How the actors bring breath to the artifact that is the text.

But what to do now? I’m still mourning the loss of my upstairs studio, and I learned it will probably be another two years before I have the space again. I also know full-well that I am using this as an excuse to shove the physical (vispo) poetry work to the side right now. I’m craving order, and paper-making and the like is disorder and there’s no corner of the house that I am willing to let go of right now. Maybe I really do need to go back to the basics.

Haibun, tanka, still pulling at me. American sentences. Maybe I need to explore my own forms – constrained poetry – outside of the vispo context.

Maybe. Definitely. And it shouldn’t be surprising that I want to work with form right now. Control. Order.

I am learning to recognize the windows when I have enough focus to read. I’m looking forward to reading a collection this evening – something that has been sitting patiently in my inbox for too long.

And I’ll begin reading for Orange Blossom Review soon. I’m looking forward to it. I have to admit to googling the poets whose work I have given a thumbs-up to. Sometimes they pass through the other editors to make the cut, sometimes not. Being a reader reminds me often how writing is about the whole process and not the curriculum vitae. Always, too, about the individual reader.

Someone will read Billy Collins’ The Lanyard at B.’s memorial service next week. It didn’t surprise me to see it in the program. It’s her favorite poem. She told me a few times. But until I saw it in the program, I didn’t think it could be a metaphor for what we try to do with our lives – in her case – a life that is a gift from God. I’m feeling a bit foolish now for not having seen it before. But I think we all have our blinders when it comes to possible perspectives: our biases, our traumas, our investments.

I am not invested in mother poems. Or God poems. But I should be invested in opening up to the perspective of people I love. I think I need to start looking to understand what other people see in the poems I first think “aren’t for me”. It is embarrassing to admit, but I’m not very good at this.

I wish I had taken more notes this past year. Why on earth do I still think I’ll remember a line when it comes to me in the middle of doing something other than writing? I don’t have a theory about where poetry comes from, but maybe Ruth Stone’s metaphor of poems as creatures flying past isn’t that far off from my experience. There is craftsmanship for certain, but there are also those rare gifts that open and unfold unexpectedly.

Catch me if you can.

Rewrites and Moving On

4 am my time and zooming with the other west coast: a table reading with amazing people willing to give three hours of their time, energy and trust to someone who hasn’t had a staged production for adults in over twenty years.

More than a little overwhelmed with appreciation. But still my awkward self.

I have a few days now to change the ending – I’ve had two alternatives in mind and it is hard to be completely satisfied with either. Shakespeare by definition is over-the-top. Plot devices and dead bodies. Knowing how not to try to “improve” Shakespeare, while adapting for a contemporary audience isn’t easy.

Then there is the “lag” in Act 2. I didn’t notice it myself because the actors took a break after Act 1, and I felt they were just wriggling back into the play. I suppose that is why we need other people to listen and give their point of view, too.

I asked the actresses if something felt too modern – language or context – and someone mentioned the fact that a character has been off at school. It was interesting because, yeah, that was pulled from the original – and Lear isn’t even Shakespeare’s only play to have characters “just returned from school” – but it doesn’t matter. If it feels incongruous to the audience, that is all that matters. A play isn’t a history lesson. And you can’t annotate a performance.

I’m finding it a little bit difficult to settle down and actually finish the rewrites. Yes, of course, the whole act of editing is a little bit anticlimactic (especially now, since I know I won’t get to see the production), but it’s also difficult to force myself to do because I don’t have a next-big-thing lined up. Not even a next-little-thing.

This has been a joy. And while it is a tiny thing in the big world, it’s something whole and satisfying. It has kept me going through three extremely difficult months.

I have written “for” people before, who have casually said they would put up my work, but then once I sent it to them, I’m not even sure they read it through. Radio silence.

Maybe this is what makes an amateur? The dedication to work blindly with no promises, and nothing to serve as a safety net for your ego? The tolerance for radio silence and the drive to go on.

The other day I read an article by a well-known playwright who was complaining about the way the huge theaters in London were treating their big name playwrights. He said the radio silence was unacceptable. (Not quoting).

So maybe, just maybe, having what it takes to carry on despite everything (or nothing at all) should be the source of pride for the amateur.

I will finish the rewrites and the edits, and I will start again from nothing to make something new. Hell, there are comets and asteroids flying through the emptiness of space. It’s just the nature of the universe: the oftentimes uselessness of just being. Where do we get the audacity to think we’re entitled to more?

Some Changes in the Works

Basically copy/paste from Facebook:

Since leaving Twitter last year, I have been thinking about my experiments the last few years with social media, the “show your work” approach to publishing, online networking, “gigging”, vispo, and writing…

And recently I’ve come to consider how precious our time and energy really is. It’s time for me to make some changes.

I will continue to keep a process journal about teaching and about specific writing projects here on my webpage. But no more personal introspection off-the-cuff and made public, and I will no longer be trying to keep up with the WordPress newsletter plugin mysteries.

I will be putting finished poems and synopses of plays on substack.

Maybe you’ll join me there? (I will be reading there, too.)

(I am also keeping – for now – the off-the-cuff, unfiltered, stream-of-consciousness diary about living with breast cancer for anyone who might benefit from reading it. It is still on WordPress, as well as this substack now.)