Saturday, February 23, 2013

As the World (of a Teaching Poet) Turns

37º ~ return of the full sun after an icy/rainy couple of days, inching back toward more temperate climes

Forgive me, Reader, it's been far too long since my last post (sometimes I'm sure I should have been born a Catholic for that religion's focus on ceremony and repetition).

When last I posted, it was the morning of the 14th. Sadly, that afternoon, I learned that my Grandma Merna had passed away.  Merna Slack, my mother's mother, was my last remaining grandparent.  She lived a long life, dying peacefully at age 88, a life free from all major diseases and a death so peaceful that my mother didn't know she had passed for several minutes. We are sad, but thankful for her long life and for the wonderful caregivers she had around her at Lakeview Landing at Friendship Village.  I was lucky to be able to drive up home on Friday and spend some time with my family before returning to Arkansas on Monday.

At that point, panic kicked in.  Papers were due Monday night from two of my classes.  I had a Big Rock Reading Series event to host on Tuesday and I hadn't gotten everything prepared before leaving town.  I had taxes to file (my goal always being to get them filed before Spring Break, as the Spring semester has a way of galloping on like a runaway at that point), which my sister, the tax preparer had been kind enough to review for me while I was home.  Poems and stories were due for the beginning workshop in my creative writing class, and I'm working on writing a blurb for a friend's chapbook, due by Monday!  Oh my, did I mention that it is an 11 hour drive each way to get home, and I'm not as young as I used to be?  So, there was a bit of road-weariness as well.

Those who see me on a daily basis know that I always wear a medallion of the famous British poster, "Keep Calm and Carry On."  (I also have the poster on my board outside my office.)  It helps to remember to slow down and breathe.  Oh, and there's being thankful bombs aren't falling all around me as well.  One of these past weekday mornings, as I got into the car to hustle to school, NPR was reporting on yet more violence in Syria, this time with a death count of 52.  Another stark reminder that it's all going to be okay for me, and I'm so lucky.

As the world turned this past week, the papers did come in and, as always, I began methodically working my way through them.  The reading was a huge success, and I'm so happy that I got to spend a bit of time with friends Carolyn Guinzio and Davis McCombs.  Several folks commented on how their poetry is so different and yet complementary at the same time.  I concur.  We had about 60 folks in the audience, and about 75% of those were students.  As has proved true in the past, many were there for an assignment or for extra credit; however, by the end of the night, most were listening with great respect and attention.  (Of course, nobody's perfect, and there were those in the audience who were texting or playing solitaire on their phones...we'll get them next time.)  Davis and Carolyn both read a few poems from their existing books and then read from newer work.  What a joy to get a preview of what's coming next.  Can't wait!

The taxes got filed on a blustery/icy Wednesday afternoon. The poems and stories came pouring in on Thursday.  Oh, Thursday, at that point, I wasn't even thinking of writing a draft (for shame!).  I was derailed with stormy weather (a much anticipated ice/snow day did not pan out) and grading.  Then, Thursday afternoon, I curled up with my friend's chapbook manuscript and was swept away by his amazing poems.  Delight!

Yesterday was one of those days where I was just holding on.  By 2:00 when I got home from school, I collapsed on the bed and fell into a deep, dark sleep for an amazing two hour nap (not something I usually do!). 

Today, I've woken feeling almost back to normal, and I'm trying to ignore the fact that AWP is something like 10 days away (breathe, breathe, breathe).  As the world of a teaching poet turns, there will be papers to grade, emails to answer, the business of life to conduct, a little bit more mourning in the quiet times, and many, many poems to read.  At some point, the writing will return.  I'm sure of it.


Kathleen said...

Sorry about your grandmother. So glad for the long, good life. I am glad you are still breathe, breathe, breathing...!!

Sandy Longhorn said...

Thanks, Kathleen!

Anonymous said...

How typical that amid difficulties you manage to count your blessings, gracious Sandy. All my best to you and your family on the loss of your grandmother.

AWP! Ai Ai Ai! Not ready not ready not ready!

Sandy Longhorn said...

Marie, seeing you at AWP will be one of the best moments!!