Thursday, January 28, 2010

Keats and a poem seed

Well I had a frusterating weekend...

And here it is Thursday and I'm finally writing about it.

Ok so a week ago, my prof assigned for us to write a poem. I got excited and my mind was on fire with ideas for it. I knew I could have it finished by Sunday at the latest! I sat in my car waiting for Bruno to get out of work Friday night, just testing the water to see what I had up in my head. Nothing. Nada. Just some scribble in my journal.

Then, Saturday I sat in Bruno's office all morning reading poems. I was searching for my inspiration. I read a poem by A.R. Ammons, Corson's Inlet:

I went for a walk over the dunes again this morning
to the sea,
then turned right along
the surf
rounded a naked headland
and returned
along the inlet shore:
it was muggy sunny, the wind from the sea steady and high,
crisp in the running sand,
some breakthroughs of sun
but after a bit
continuous overcast:
the walk liberating, I was released from forms,
from the perpendiculars,
straight lines, blocks, boxes, binds
of thought
into the hues, shadings, rises, flowing bends and blends
of sight:
I allow myself eddies of meaning:
yield to a direction of significance
like a stream through the geography of my work:
you can find
in my sayings
swerves of action
like the inlet’s cutting edge:
there are dunes of motion,
organizations of grass, white sandy paths of remembrance
in the overall wandering of mirroring mind:
but Overall is beyond me: is the sum of these events
I cannot draw, the ledger I cannot keep, the accounting
beyond the account:
in nature there are few sharp lines: there are areas of
more or less dispersed;
disorderly orders of bayberry; between the rows
of dunes,
irregular swamps of reeds,
though not reeds alone, but grass, bayberry, yarrow, all ...
predominantly reeds:
I have reached no conclusions, have erected no boundaries,
shutting out and shutting in, separating inside
from outside: I have
drawn no lines:
manifold events of sand
change the dune’s shape that will not be the same shape
so I am willing to go along, to accept
the becoming
thought, to stake off no beginnings or ends, establish
no walls:
by transitions the land falls from grassy dunes to creek
to undercreek: but there are no lines, though
change in that transition is clear
as any sharpness: but “sharpness” spread out,
allowed to occur over a wider range
than mental lines can keep:
the moon was full last night: today, low tide was low:
black shoals of mussels exposed to the risk
of air
and, earlier, of sun,
waved in and out with the waterline, waterline inexact,
caught always in the event of change:
a young mottled gull stood free on the shoals
and ate
to vomiting: another gull, squawking possession, cracked a crab,
picked out the entrails, swallowed the soft-shelled legs, a ruddy
turnstone running in to snatch leftover bits:
risk is full: every living thing in
siege: the demand is life, to keep life: the small
white blacklegged egret, how beautiful, quietly stalks and spears
the shallows, darts to shore
to stab—what? I couldn’t
see against the black mudflats—a frightened
fiddler crab?
the news to my left over the dunes and
reeds and bayberry clumps was
fall: thousands of tree swallows
gathering for flight:
an order held
in constant change: a congregation
rich with entropy: nevertheless, separable, noticeable
as one event,
not chaos: preparations for
flight from winter,
cheet, cheet, cheet, cheet, wings rifling the green clumps,
at the bayberries
a perception full of wind, flight, curve,
the possibility of rule as the sum of rulelessness:
the “field” of action
with moving, incalculable center:
in the smaller view, order tight with shape:
blue tiny flowers on a leafless weed: carapace of crab:
snail shell:
pulsations of order
in the bellies of minnows: orders swallowed,
broken down, transferred through membranes
to strengthen larger orders: but in the large view, no
lines or changeless shapes: the working in and out, together
and against, of millions of events: this,
so that I make
no form of
orders as summaries, as outcomes of actions override
or in some way result, not predictably (seeing me gain
the top of a dune,
the swallows
could take flight—some other fields of bayberry
could enter fall
berryless) and there is serenity:
no arranged terror: no forcing of image, plan,
or thought:
no propaganda, no humbling of reality to precept:
terror pervades but is not arranged, all possibilities
of escape open: no route shut, except in
the sudden loss of all routes:
I see narrow orders, limited tightness, but will
not run to that easy victory:
still around the looser, wider forces work:
I will try
to fasten into order enlarging grasps of disorder, widening
scope, but enjoying the freedom that
Scope eludes my grasp, that there is no finality of vision,
that I have perceived nothing completely,
that tomorrow a new walk is a new walk.

I just kept reading it over and over again, amazed. It's so beautiful, deep, true...

And then I got jealous. I could never write like Ammons. I gave up and went to the gym.

Sunday, I was starting to get worried. "Ok, Katie" I told myself, "it's now or never. Put butt to chair and away you go!" So I did. I sat in my living room (surrounded of course by my many cats) and tried my damnedest to hammer out a poem. I even went for a walk! A walk! I did some research. I read poems. I scribbled.

Nothing was coming together! I must have sat there for 3 hours, and nothing.

By this point I was disappointed in myself. I was thinking I've lost it. I can't write. Might as well just come up with something mediocre to hand in and give up on this whole idea that I can write.

But then....

I was at work on Monday morning sitting in my office. All of the sudden, my mind wandered off back to the poem. I glanced out my window, and that was all I needed! I grabbed my pen and whipped out my journal, and about an hour later there it was! With a little work and meditation, this seed could become a poem.

Isn't that how it is though? Keats seemed to think so when he wrote, "That if poetry comes not as naturally as the leaves to a tree it had better not come at all" (1818). Yeah. That still holds true today. Thanks, Keats for putting it so nicely.

Anyway here's my "walking poem" so far:

Just Words.

We all step to the cadence of man
In tandem, one by one
As he beats
His drum to the ticks
Of his watch and I listen –
Thinking it’s the heartbeat

Of God. I’m stepping to His pulse,
flowing through His Merlot
Veins like seasons. In spring
I blossom with flowers
White like stars – stamen reaching
Toward the sun
Ripening in October
Demeter’s glory - full
to the belly with seeds
And tart nectar – my flesh a ruby

But it’s just
A drum beat

And I find myself ripe
With nothing
But words and words -

Not too bad right? It has some promise.

Now if only I could write like Cormac Mccarthy... (sigh)...

Friday, January 22, 2010

Just a few thoughts...

Well, I'm back in class.

And it's a GREAT thing I am! I already feel myself more inspired, more motivated to write. I'm reading and thinking too...

So what is it that makes a good poem? Is it the imagination of the writer? Her structure? The way she uses language? Or is it something more? Anyway, I was reading an essay about writing poems, and it brought up an interesting point. It stated that poems stem from (duh!) our thought process. And when we're writing, and our mind goes off on a tangent, that's a good thing! My mind often goes off on tangents, so I need to remember to cherish and record these. There's a reason I'm thinking about thing x, and thing x needs to go in a poem. Something like that...

But I've always known that when your mind makes a leap, it's usually a good thing. I'm vowing today to follow my stream of consciousness more in my brainstorming, and let my mind wonder. I bet I'll come up with something slightly interesting...

Anyway, we did a writing exercise in class last night. Here's what I came up with

I can tell you what I need
is a miracle - to flow
through his body, to open
him like an over ripe pear - split
down the middle - exposing
soft flesh - embrace
the core, seeds, and to make him whole

I can tell you what I really need
is my body -
to stiffen taut and tight
around my once fragile bones -
to brace the world around me - to stand
when it falls - to need
to not be needed so
damn much.

I like to write about bodies, but does that mean I'm always writing about sex? NO!

Just a few thoughts...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Working on a piece about grief and death... how uplifting right!?

OK here's my brainstorm.

Here I am and I guess I never really loved you -
Alone in our bed
- the sheets still warm with passion.
Unaware that tomorrow you'll wake
unmarried. I'll watch your tearless eyes
turn red - your body become a warm shell

But I'll never return - a whore.
My flesh gave way
to soul. In an instant
we were divorced
by eternity.

I want you to stay here
with me, unliving.

There's something missing. I want to write about how I want you to continue mourning me forever, because I'm not like Neruda. I can't understand the thought of you loving again without me. And how, I can leave you for death, but you can't leave me for another piece of flesh. And how, I guess that proves that I never really loved you, because I want you to suffer and mourn without me.

Monday, January 11, 2010

A good wife

I often wonder how one goes about being a good wife...

Amidst all the periods and the dirty dishwater, greasy hair days and frost killed flowers. When, in the rushing hum of everyday life, with its stale morning coffee and the little piles of dirty socks on the floor, the evenings at home when all we can do is sit at our messy kitchen table and eat once warm McDonalds cheeseburgers, and when, waking up this morning, I forgot where we were five years ago - you grasping me in your arms and offering me a ring, and yet here we lay, in our bed together, you still holding me close to you as if I were life itself.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Bios and pictures

With my book coming out in the near future (I LOVE WRITING THIS!) I now have the happy but stressful task of doing my bio and getting my author picture taken.

Playing around with the tone of my bio is tough. My book's a little on the serious side, and whenever I've written my bio in the past, I'm silly about it. For example:

Here's the bio I submitted for the Human Slavery conference:

K. is first and foremost a writer. In her spare time, she teaches 6th grade English in Santa Rosa. She is also an MFA scholar at the University of Texas Pan American, where she concentrates on poetry. She lives in Edinburg with her soul mate and many cats.

Eh? too lighthearted.

K. is first and foremost a writer. In her spare time, she teaches 6th grade English in a tiny town called Santa Rosa. She is also an MFA student at the University of Texas Pan American, where she concentrates on poetry. Katherine lives in Edinburg, Texas with her many cats and her soul mate. She is a vegetarian who believes in love at first sight, and happily ever after.

Too cutesy!

Now, neither of these are fit to grace the back of my first book!

Here's what I have so far...

K. was born in rural Wisconsin, but moved to south Texas at an early age. She received her BA in English from the University of Texas Pan American and is currently pursuing her MFA in creative writing. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in various literary journals. Katherine taught English in a small south Texas border town for several years, and now works at UTPA. Although she has traveled extensively through Europe, the Middle East, and Mexico, Katherine will always call this borderland home. She currently lives in Edinburg, Texas with her soul mate and her many cats.

Better? Well the tone is more serious, but it's still me.

Now for a picture? Ahhh!!