The Deaf Leading The Unborn
Saturday, 23 January 2010
I’ve always felt that poems need to be ferberized.
For me, writing is like traveling to multiple dimensions and accidentally coming back very pregnant. When the writing feeling happens, the interstellar me is whisked off to another universe. This wispy version of myself spends the rest of the poem tucking the geography (and iconography) of the place into her pockets so that I can transcribe them through my mostly inert real body. When these two parts of me are rejoined, I’m startled by the big pile of newness that we created. I’m almost always unable to keep writing, and whatever words were born when we got back together just need to take a nap, as far as I can tell.
Sometimes, these poems nap for years. More often, it takes 3-6 months. I check on them every once in awhile to see if they are still breathing, then silently close the nursery drawer. They have to be able to soothe themselves. If I bring a poem out after 6 months of silence and it is just screaming for attention, I put it away again.
So when Kate misheard my suggestion that we read another person’s poem every night at Soapstone as something like “Let’s read our new poems every night” I was so mortified that I agreed and just ate another oyster. Kate and I are both hard of hearing, which means our time together in poetry group and at this residency is commonly punctuated with “What?” and “Can you say that again?” After years of smiling and nodding through unheard conversations or deftly changing the subject after the third time I’ve asked someone to speak up and I still have absolutely no idea what they are talking about, I’m prone to giving my hearing impaired friends license to re-interpret my words. Some of the best things I’ve ever heard were just the hallucinations of my damaged and dreamy ears. When considering my need to let poems rest for large amounts of time before they are allowed to see the light of day, I do get annoyed at my fussy self. What is all this nonsense about alternate universes and treating poems like breathing creatures that need to form their independence?
Not all of my talents are invested in being a total weirdo, however – I am also remarkably good at procrastinating, and inversely, at being rash. A few days ago, Kate asked if I wanted to email her a few poems so that she could print them out. So that we could workshop them. Days after they were written. I made some sort of semi-plausible excuse about needing to look them over, because they really weren’t poems yet. A couple of days ago, when we were in the freezing cold café with the virgins and jazz music, I looked over one of her poems, but whoops! none of mine were printed. The night before last, I managed to get really involved in an abstract embroidery project I am working on, and we missed our window for the planned workshop. Then, yesterday morning, without having tried to make them into actual poems, I gave up. I woke a few of them up, and escorted them through the printing process.
They did look a little dazed, and one of them seemed to be fighting constipation. I took them to the table, handed them over to Kate, and waited for the impending tantrums.
And nothing bad happened. In fact, only good things happened. The poems seemed remarkably soothed by the process. One of them came together and is finished.
I don’t know if this early showing of poems will be a practical practice when I get back to the city – perhaps it works better here in the woods. But I am pretty pleased.
And sometimes, I really love being wrong.