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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,

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.

The Archive of Self-Absorption

full-back tattoo of a crane
“To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be actualized by myriad things. When actualized by myriad things, your body and mind as well as the bodies and minds of others drop away.” ― Dogen


That didn’t happen.

Where to begin again?

The unread and read-but-unsavored books on my shelves overwhelm me with choices. Matthea Harvey, I read for the line-breaks. Marianne Moore for the imagery. Robert Hass, to follow the evolution of a single poem through publications.

I haven’t counted, but I fear books about poetry may outnumber books of poetry, if one is looking strictly at a genre distinction.

I am still trying to remember who it was I loaned George Brant’s Grounded to. I remember being disappointed it was written by a man. So was Nuts. I don’t think I ever actually owned a copy of that play.

Last year, for several months, I actually read for joy. Then I tried to twist it into something useful. That will kill anything that needs to breathe. My relationship with poetry has been one of continual deaths and resurrections. There is no good reason for that now.

I walked Leonard this evening and took a photo of a small tree stump. The bark is pulling from the wood, and there is a thin, nearly texture-less layer of moss covering the wound. I wrote Afterlife on the Instagram note. (No hashtag. I am trying to wean myself from all of that.)

Scanning the bookshelves for an entry point, I see Albert Goldbarth’s 2015 collection Selfish. Seems like a good place to begin. With the teacher who simultaneously drew me in and pushed me away from poetry. The poet who had a way with poetry, and a way with unwritten words. Looking back I suppose I could find new perspectives from which to view that semester. Maybe knowing that is enough not to have to.

This evening I heard the phrase fluid perception in connection with memory.

Auden said, “Poetry might be defined as the clear expression of mixed feelings.” I have so many mixed feelings. Mixed perspectives.

I flip through the book to see if I had even gotten to it whenever I bought it. No.

But my eye lands on a word in a poem: Afterlife.

“[…] I’ve witnessed that come-hither prestidigitorial trick / ten thousand times. An afterlife – is there an afterlife […]”

The title of the poem is “The Disappearance of the Nature Poem into the Nature Poem”. So, yes. This seems a good place to begin.

Libraries are magical places – places for divination. Even when they are in your own home, assembled over decades out of duty and obligation – out of aspirations that are still only aspirations.

The timer has chimed three times to say it’s time to move on. I will pour a glass of wine and take Selfish downstairs. Leonard will stretch out with his back pressed against my hip and leg, and he’ll dream.

I’ve always admired Goldbarth’s poetry.

I’ll try to find the nature poem in the nature poem. But first I have to look up prestidigitorial.