Monday, November 28, 2005

Well last week I was worried about writing in the voice of Anne More Donne (which actually turned out OK. I wrote 724 words, which is a lot for a poet!). Today, I've got to write in the voice of either Sappho or the Muse. Or, I guess I could take a whole new spin on Anne. gulp. I'm surprised at how much fun this prose writing is! Don't get me wrong, I don't think I'm up for a novel or anything quite yet, but this dabbling is fun.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving. I survived a 10 hour drive to Richmond, VA. with my 3 month old, my 2 and 1/2 year old and mother-in-law. I'm surprised at how smoothly the drive went. Long drives (when the children are sleeping) are refuges for the mind. At home these types of rare moments (both children sleeping at the same time) are polluted by my duties to housework and laundry and cooking. But, on the Pennsylvania turnpike, my husband driving, I can sit back and let the images of a poem gather like little duststorms in my mind.

While we were driving, I saw a little kid stuck in the way-back of a hatchback. He looked lonely and tired. That used to be my seat when I was little. My mother loves to tell a story about how I was miraculously saved as a child. We were driving to my cousin's graduation from high school in a blue hatchback and I was all nestled in the way-back, but I got lonely and crawled up through the seats to the front passenger side where my mom was sitting to sit on her lap. Just then a man rear-ended us and my little seat, the hatch, was crumpled up like an accordion. You would have been killed! My mother would always say. She kept a Polaroid of the crumpled car in an album and each time we'd look through, she tell me the story again. She'd ask what made you decide to crawl up to the front? and I'd want to tell her something miraculous. That I'd heard voices like Joan of Arc, or I'd seen a vision. But, I'd just smile and say the truth.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Today I have to write from the voice of Anne More Donne. It's an assignment for class. We are writing a play (or a series of dramatic monologues that are intertwined) and you'd think as a creative writer I'd be excited about it. But it's just daunting. There is no record of anything every having been written by Anne and so everything about her has to be compilled and filled in from what is said (and what is not said) in her famous husband's letters, sermons and poems. What's more, he never mentions her name in any of these texts (the only text which can truely be attributed to having been written about her is her epitaph). Plus, it's not poetry! So, I am procrastinating by blogging. I am not only writing the voice of Anne, but I'll be taking on the voices of Sappho and the Muses as well. No small feat. Wish me luck.

Friday, November 18, 2005

"Islands" Muriel Rukeyser

O for God's sake
they are connected underneath

They look at each other
across the glittering sea
some keep a low profile

Some are cliffs
The bathers think
islands are sperate like them
The first snow is always a novelty. The chill. Finding your winter coat. Having an excuse for tea and cookies in the afternoon. New snow makes me think of a clean slate. A new, crisp, white page to start the year over again on. Fall just feels like it is waiting for something to happen. The impending leaves, their darkening. The whole landscape is waiting to be covered in snow and you can feel that anticipation in the air. My mother-in-law needs this snow. Perhaps it'll begin to whiten the dark grief she's been shrouded in. Someone was reminding me how it used to be when someone died that you bought a dark suit or dress when your spouse died and you wore it every day for a year. Literally, every day. She said by the end of it you were so sick of the clothes, you threw them away, and with them you threw away your grief. What a metaphor. The physicallity of it.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

I'm having a hard time getting a poem together that I've had brewing in my mind for a few weeks. I think about it everything I drive to my in-laws house. There's this lake we pass over -- Lake Meander. It's a recovery with a town underneath. Literally, underneath the water. Like a steeltown Atlantis or something. The town was deserted and then submerged. In my mind I like to think you can look down and see tables set for dinner and tattered curtains blossoming from the windows -- but probably not a Pompeii. The lake is freckled with all of these cement pilings that are covered with cormorants. It's a full-deck kind of image that just sits on your sub-conscious (like those sea-birds!). I started relating it to John Donne's metaphors about shadows: "As all shadows are of one color, if you respect the body from which they were cast (for our shadows upon clay will be dirty and in a garden green and flowery)." Then, yesterday my mother-in-law told me she and her husband (who just passed away two months ago) used to talk about the cormorants every time they passed over Meander to come to our house. So, when she was driving over yesterday she asked him to take the form of a cormorant and to lift off up from one of the pilings to prove to her he was listening. She said one of them did alight.
Now I just need to sit down, shuffle the deck, and write.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Today, after a hard day of Ph.D. work, I strapped Max into the baby Bjoern and walked to the local stripmall. It was a perfect fall day. It was even warm. I kept thinking about what Kurt Vunnegut had said at a reading I saw him at a few years ago (actually, it was on the day I turned 30, so I remember the day vividly). He was talking about the "writers process" and how stepping out into the world say, to the post office or the Office max, and mingling with the rest of the world is just as important as sitting down to write. Anyway, thinking about what Vonnegut said made me feel quite "literary" on my errands (just as cooking sometimes makes me feel the same after having washed lettuce with Galaway Kinnell -- but that's another story).

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Another day, another poop blow-out. My son is an amazing pooper. For his size, he seems to create an amazing amount of poop. But enough about poop. I'm really just procastinating a paper I need to write (and a reading list I need to create for my exams this Spring). I realized today that the title of this blog is in the past tense - like I'd already survived it. When in reality I'm knee-deep in it.

The day is gray and worrisome because winter is already on it's haunches waiting to pounce. I'm not a big fan of snow. Especially city snow. The grey weight of it kind of overwhelms me. Winter is a good time to be a student though - you don't have a lot of distractions (I already have enough of those.)