It’s been a busy week. I facilitated two workshops at the local open prison, working with beginner writers, even somewhat reluctant writers. Meanwhile, I completed a significant edit and re-write of a chapbook of poems to put into competition by the deadline today. In between, there were meetings to plan other workshop collaborative projects that will be coming on stream in late spring. In the midst of all this I have had intervals of post-viral listlessness and tiredness, as well as managing the lingering symptoms.
I really did not want to do poetry practice this morning. I know its bad when I would prefer to clean the house than face the blank page and write something and then start clacking at the keyboard to write the second or third drafts.
Some days its harder to walk your talk. The Great Trickster hoists you on your own leotard. Or petard. This past week I have been a bit evangelical about the benefits of daily writing to the guys in my workshop. One found he wanted to write poetry since his sentencing (now there is a word to conjure with in the context of a prison!) It does help him manage his feelings. I handed out three pristine blank books to some of his fellows. If for no other reason than to manage frustration and to learn how to corral feelings on the page, leave them there, and then close the book on them. Better that than projecting them out in the world where there is the potential of them doing harm.
So before the poetry came today I had to practice some of what I preached. Saw my self-doubt there. Wondered if sometimes the teaching is a distraction away from the editting and writing. Considered the lot of women writers. Both Virginia Woolfe and Sylvia Plath had a room of their own. But Virginia Woolf had servants, while Plath had children and washing up in the rooms next door. How much does our social conditioning condition what we create as artists?
Then the poetry practice began to flow… And I realise that I need to keep the faith with the process. I may not know where it will take me, but I need to stay faithful to allow it to take me where it wants me to go.
Would Could Should
My mother pegging washing on the clothesline,
looks up to see the jet stream tracking its course
across the sky. It is going east. Wonders aloud
where it will go. Wishing that sometime she, too, could
In autumn she hears the honking Canada geese
heading south for winter as she rakes the fallen leaves.
She and her sisters all watch birds, living under the
fly pasts along their migratory
My mother felt clumsy putting pen to paper, felt
nothing she would say was interesting at all.
What could happen if every woman wrote her restless soul?
Should we all raise our wings and as one take
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