I’ve run away from home again in the name of love. Book love.
Sometimes this writer needs to stop using her wife voice, mother voice, daughter voice, sister voice, auntie voice, professor voice, neighbor voice to recall the voice that sounds most like her inner soul. Her writing voice.
There was a red suitcase involved, a bag of books heavier than a week’s worth of groceries, my cappuccino maker, and a short to-do list.
- Write the last poem of THE BOOK.
- Finalize order of poems in THE BOOK. (Yes, this contradicts Item #1.)
- Edit all poems in THE BOOK.
On Monday, the list felt an awful lot like this:
The weird thing is, I chose this week, right in the middle of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs annual conference, the single largest gathering of writers in North America. More than ten thousand writers and editors traveled to Boston. I stayed in California. I haven’t missed a conference in five years. And yet I desperately needed to be alone and write more than I needed to schmooze and buy books and be inspired by what other writers were doing. I couldn’t afford both a writer’s retreat and to put myself up in Boston, so I chose me. Alone.
As the week winds down, THE BOOK has been tamed back down to all lower case letters. Needles have been plucked, rough edges smoothed.
The new perspective comes by paying attention to the Backyard Sisters theme for March: contrast.
Home. Not home.
Omnipresent trail. Tidal path.
Warm toes. Cold bed.
Narrative moves forward, I tell my students, when that which is bumps up against that which is not. The best poetry happens, says poet Amy Newlove Schroeder, when there’s “a yoking together of the concrete and the abstract,” like “blending the perfect martini.” Last year I had the pleasure of hearing Amy give a poetry talk titled “Concrete Abstraction” at Chapman University. She urged poets to consider how all language is representational and the most “successful” poetry is that which can translate an experience, an idea, an aloneness, “from the tangible to the real.” It’s how we don’t die of loneliness, Schroeder suggests.
If you’d like your own university classroom experience, you can view her talk here. And if you’re anywhere near Orange County, you can catch her at Literary Orange, Sat. April 6, 2013, at the Irvine Marriott, a hotel. Not home.