Saturday, September 20, 2014

BIC & Poetry vs. Collage

81º ~ feels like 85º, summer's having a final blowout sale this weekend with temps and humidity climbing, a promise of cooling down in the new week & the new season, hummingbirds continue to battle it out, one bird trying to claim all four feeders in our yard

First, a celebration of BIC (butt in chair), as it really does work. This morning, I flailed about for at least an hour, starting two miserable drafts in my journal before stumbling onto what I really wanted to say/write.

I have to thank Brent Goodman this morning.  His poem "The Brother Swimming Beneath Me" bleeds into the line "is not dead yet... ." That sparked a first line for me, "Dad isn't dead yet, but disappearing." Many of you know that my dad has been dealing with Parkinson's for years. Recently, he has shown all of the elements of Alzheimer's setting in as well. As always, it is a struggle for me to be so far away and to know that my mom and my oldest sister bear the brunt of his caregiving. I thought that's what the poem would be about, but no.

Instead, today poetry did that magical thing. The draft went in another direction, focusing on my dad, not me, and helping me see something about him that I'd never been able to articulate before. The draft, titled "Undersong," actually reveals a man "letting go" of the world long before symptoms appeared because the world had advanced beyond his recognition. Yes, it is based on autobiography, but there's a good deal of fictionalizing going on in there as well.

*Note, "undersong" is a real word with a real definition, but all these silly spell checkers keep telling me otherwise. Le sigh.

So, hurray for BIC and for poetry as an act of discovery that helps me make sense of my world. It might not make living in that world any easier, but it helps.


Now, to poetry versus collage. I don't really mean this as a "versus" kind of thing, but the form of "this versus that" is easy shorthand. What I mean to say is this: I am torn. I have a limited number of hours to devote to my creative life, and I'm having conflicted thoughts about where my collages fit in with my poetry. Truth is, some mornings, I'd rather be making a collage than stumbling over the page in this broken way of late. Yet, I have been "a poet" for so long that I feel guilty about wanting to be making a different kind of art.

I worry that if I don't keep my BIC, I'll lose my poetry muscles (from past experiences, I know I will), but if I'm uninspired by writing and inspired by working with visual images, shouldn't I honor that?

Anyone out there who makes art in multiple fields care to offer any advice? This is much weirder than genre-switching on the page. Each practice requires a whole different physical space and movement, a different firing in the brain. Help!


Kristin said...

I, too, wrestle with which creative work to do. I think that if one is calling to you, you should go where you feel inspired. I have found that even when my poetry/writing muscles feel flabby, I can get back in shape fairly quickly when I've been away. To use a running metaphor, which is actually a line in one of my poems: The muscles remember what the mind forgets. I also think of my poor abandoned muse when I'm off pursuing other muses, but that muse reminds me that she's always been there in my subconscience, like Penelope, patiently weaving, waiting for me.

Sandy Longhorn said...

Hi, Kristin,
Thanks so much for this! It really helps.

Molly said...

I have wondered the same. I've more or less abandoned collage since July, but I truly miss it. I've thought about setting aside a specific time for collage -- maybe even just one Saturday afternoon a month. but I also think Kristin gives good advice: following where the muse leads ... I trust the muse more than I trust my tendency to want to schedule things. I feel your pain!

Molly said...

So sorry about your dad. <3

Sandy Longhorn said...

Thanks for the support, Molly!

John Vanderslice said...

Sandy, sad to hear about your dad, but happy for your poetry news. The fact that you are able to keep your BIC at all with everything going on is a lesson and an inspiration. Don't sweat the creative quarrel within yourself. I completely get it. Completely. But finally I've decided we shouldn't beat ourselves up over loving a kind of creativity and feeling nourished by it. Go where your juices want to. (I don't always follow this advice myself, but I still think it's right.)

Sandy Longhorn said...

John, I appreciate you! Thanks.

Pam said...

Hi Sandy, I really agree with what Kristin wrote. Time away from the chair, if used in another creative endeavor, feeds the muse. Perhaps collage is letting you strengthen a new muscle that will power the writing muscle…kind of like cross-training, to stay with the exercise metaphor. I could imagine a series of collage poems or other writing around your collage-making. My time away from writing is often spent taking photos. I'm thinking about looking for patterns etc in the photographs that might flow into poetry. Good luck! (And so sorry about your father.)

Sandy Longhorn said...

Hi, Pam,
Thanks so much for taking the time to offer your ideas here. It really helps!