If you are in the DC/B'more area and just can't get enough NaPoWriMo, I will be reading some of my NaPoems this Saturday, as part of the i.e. reading series. I will be reading with Buck Downs and Rupert Wondolowski. The reading starts at 8 p.m., and takes place at:
2225 Hargrove Street
Baltimore, MD. 21218
Be there or be someone who is sadly absent.
This has been a strange NaPoWriMo for me. For starters, these are like, the girliest poems I have ever written. They are full of leaves and feelings. I kind of have a violent reaction toward them. "Ugh, Maureen, how did you get so full of leaves and feelings?"
(Of course I know the answer to that and it is fine and dandy and yeah, but I am just so terribly unused to presenting in any way that really strikes me as feminine. My presentation of myself my strike other people that way, of course, but it usually doesn't strike me that way. Nor as masculine. Just Maureeninine).
But now I read these poems and I say, "dude, you are such a girl."
Which is to be expected. I mean, these poems come out of a good while of studying work by women poets, they are heavily influenced by women poets. And I am a woman poet. Poet. Who happens to be a woman.
But here I am, just falling into old traps of thinking. Most of the women poets I was reading before embarking on this project are not really explorers of gender. Nor is their work flowery or dramatic. Rather, I would consider their work rather coldly intellectual. At the same time, however, their work encompasses leaps and connections that seem to proceed from some inarticulable (i.e., emotional) source, as opposed to formal, syllogistic logic. Their poems aren't sonnets that propose, discuss, and answer; they're essays which may or may not have open ends.
What I am really getting at here is the "leaves and feelings." I wanted to write work that had more of this "emotional" logic -- and did not work so much on a ask-and-answer level. I wanted to give the poems some space -- visually, substantively. I am not sure I have been successful at this attempt -- syllogisms are both relentless and totally awesome in my view, and it is hard to divorce myself of them.
But it is a mistake (or at least simply unnecessary) to think of this kind of writing as particularly gendered. At the same time, though, I cannot really think of male writers of this kind of work. Maybe I just haven't seen it (terribly likely, really -- there are only 3 kajillion poetry books I haven't read). It does put me in mind a bit of Wallace Stevens, although more by way of result than method -- his poems are superficially hyperrational, but I think that the imagination has to do as much work as the old logic-circuits in processing his work.
Another brain-twister for me: following Barbara Guest's advice in "Forces of Imagination," I haven't been titling poems until after they're written. Resisting the desire to title in advance has been excruciating. Generally, I title first and then let the title shape (if not dictate) the content. Working without this safety net has been scary, even if I think the results have generally been fine.
How's about you? Any changes in your writing this month?
Then I decided to look for some ads I remember from my youth in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia: the unbelievable ads of personal injury lawyer Lowell "The Hammer" Stanley. And behold! The tubes did not fail me! Here are six wondrous ads from the gentleman who once proudly declared, "if you want dignity, DON'T call Lowell 'The Hammer' Stanley, but if you want CASH..." Replete with awesome glass-smashing sound effects!