I had an interesting, writerly sort of day today. It wasn’t supposed to be a writerly day, actually. I started the day by grading final portfolios for my classes, and then went into the university to meet with a student and pick up a few portfolios that were coming in late. But before I sat down to grade this morning, while I was eating breakfast, I fiddled with a poetry collection that I’m supposed to be working on, trying to figure out how to get the poems in the right order within their sections. Trying to find a logical flow from poem to poem.
And then, after meeting with the student, I drove to Harvard Square and went into my favorite stationary shop, Bob Slate, which makes the notebooks I use for writing. Spiral bound, narrow ruled, with Bob Slate Stationer written on the cover. And I bought some notebooks, also Bob Slate, small enough so they will fit into my purse. I still remember being in the museum and having nothing to write on. That’s not going to happen to me again.
Then I drove home and found a couple of things in the mailbox: the new Locus, a Locus subscription renewal form (which I will of course fill out, because I cannot live without Locus), and Mythic Delirium 23, which you can order through the Mythic Delirium website. Here’s what it looks like:
I particularly like this cover because it goes with one of the two poems I have in the issue, “Death.” The other poems is called “As I Was Walking.” “Death” is a love poem that begins,
The night has gathered around me. I think of Death,
Who breathes so softly beside my ear, like a lover.
Softly he whispers, “This will soon be over.
You will lay those bones and heavy body down.”
All my poems about death are personifications, and all of them are love poems. Not because I’m a particularly grim person, I think, but because of all the bad boys out there, Death is the baddest of them all. Don’t you think?
Why do I write poetry? For the fame and fortune, of course. (Are you laughing?) But seriously, I write poetry because it’s in me, and if I don’t get out the things that are in me, I become sick. I think I’m sick now because I have so many stories inside my head, and they’re making my head hurt. And I have poems in there too, although fewer than I used to. But I would like to write more.
Yes, I did mention that I’m trying to put together a poetry collection. (Did you pick up on that?) I don’t know how it will turn out, and although I have confidence in my prose, I don’t have the same confidence in my poetry, primarily because of some negative experiences in undergraduate poetry classes. (Evidently it’s fine to write about a Buddhist monk wandering around a hardware store, but not about a woman who, one day, discovers that dragons have moved into her apartment. Small ones. “They got tangled in the hangers.” I still remember that line.)
So I’m fiddling and worrying, worrying and fiddling, wondering if I can be excused from writing Significant Modern Poetry if I come out and say, “Look, this is in the tradition of Walter de la Mare, not T.S. Eliot.” After all, Jane Yolen and Neil Gaiman write poetry that has a mythic dimension, that has in fact appeared in Mythic Delirium. I’ll just go sit at their table, thank you. Where we write poems about witches and ogres, and how to survive fairy tales, and all that sort of stuff.