Monday, June 25, 2012

Reading Journals and Some Notes on the Self-Imposed Homestead Writing Residency

95º ~ at 10:45 a.m. (projected high 102º) ~ nothing but "sunny and 99º" for the 7-day forecast

This heat is nothing new and nearly everything here in central Arkansas is air conditioned; still there is an emotional exhaustion that ensues after so many days without rain and so many days to come without rain (the same is true in seasons of flood when we yearn for the sun).

A sod homestead, 1886, click for link
If you follow me on FB, you know that I spent yesterday reading journals (especially Grist #5, about which I could not stop posting).  I've followed up with more of that this morning.  One of my goals for this residency was to read a book a day.  I didn't meet this goal quite as well as I met the drafting and putting together of the sickly speaker manuscript.

Having reached a lull in writing, and having spent several days focused on revision and submitting, I decided yesterday to begin to whittle my stack of "to-read" books and journals.  I'm happy to report that I've "read" all of the loose copies of journals that were floating around the desk of the Kangaroo.  I put "read" in quotation marks b/c I read journals very differently than I read whole books of poetry.  For one, if the journal covers multiple-genres, I confess that I skip the prose.  I do so not b/c I don't enjoy prose but b/c I have such an overwhelming stack of books/journals to get through.  (One exception is when I see the name of someone I know on a story or piece of nonfiction, then, I pause to read the piece.)

When I read the poetry in journals, I do not finish every poem, again often due to the sheer number of pages that hover around me. I have no problem stating this.  One of the things I love about contemporary poetry is the diversity of craft & voice.  If something doesn't snag me up, that's cool; it probably appeals to another subset of poetry readers.  Also, by noting which journals provide an overwhelming number of poems that snag me up and keep me reading, I'm learning (always learning) which journals make my best audience.  (The one difficulty here is journals that come from MFA/PhD programs where the editorial aesthetic shifts widely from year to year.)

As I read through the journals in my stack, I had the question of ampersands in the back of my mind.  My report: 98% of the poems I read were ampersand free.  I'm not sure if this means I'm going to change the way the sickly speaker uses them, but it adds more to my thought process about the whole situation. 


Some thoughts I've been having about this self-imposed homestead writing residency.

~ The other day I ran into another Little Rock poet and she was working on her latest book at Starbucks.  I offered that I have a hard time concentrating on writing / revising at a coffee shop (esp. one as busy as my neighborhood's Starbucks).  She offered that she is too easily distracted at home by things like laundry, movies, spending time with her pets, etc. 

This is to say that I see her point and I'll admit that I've had to work at ignoring the house beyond the desk of the Kangaroo.  Some days this has been harder than others (insert cats loudly asking for play time).  Force of will is a crucial element.

~ I'm running out of steam.  I am thrilled, absolutely thrilled, with what I've accomplished in the past three weeks but wondering if there is much left in the tank for this last week.  I'm a huge advocate for rest periods to let things settle and ferment.  I sense I need that now. 

~ This whole process has been more instinct than plan.

No comments: