A blog is supposed to be regular as those laxative commercials tell us we all should be. Alas, mine is not and needed a cathartic which fellow Wordsmither and beautiful super blogger Jan Sheridan supplied by nominating me for the “Writer’s Tell All Blog Hop.” Thanks Jan for remembering that I actually have a blog. It’s been a while.
MY TELL ALL (WELL NOT ALL)
It’s been said that if you are afraid of what you are writing you are on the right track. I believe that if your story, poem or art work doesn’t break new ground you won’t see any growth. When every line, every sentence, hums with an electric charge and occasional jolt you are on your way. Under this kind of current any old clichés can be spun and their magnetic fields will gather and mix new alloys.
No doubt metal imagery has a currency with this writer whose head is recently bound back together with titanium screws following brain surgery. Years ago I was a serious rock head banger now I’m simply a dull metal head. My writing was on a hiatus for a time, since I wasn’t producing many intelligible words while on morphine and oxycodone. And while my eyes are still half blind I can avoid looking at the screen to type and audio books can be purchased though I prefer, like a child, to be read to.
WHAT AM I WORKING ON?
Since my head was opened with a knife, I’ve continued to write poems and even an essay on poetry called, Not Milking Goats In Moon Light. Here is an excerpt:
Poetry is the way I stay connected with the wild soul. The magic of poetry is not having to pull on a hairy teat to imagine the rhythmic ting of blood-hot milk steaming in stainless steel on a cool night under a red ball moon larger than the world. I only need a masterfully crafted poem to show me a connection to what is primal in us all – that deep and often scary life that lives unseen inside each and every one of us.
I continue to edit a poetry book, Confessions of a Dog Handler, a mix of letter and line poems loosely drawn from my life as a long-distance dog musher. I’m also writing an experimental series of haiku poems, tentatively called, Ten Times Ten Haikus. The idea is to see what sense and interesting non-sense can be made using ten sets of 12 words to create one hundred haikus. I’m currently up to eighty-plus. I call it word bending. Actually, it will enrage the grammarians among us. The idea came to me after listening to children, teens and those outside my social milieu use word combinations in grammatically incorrect ways that did not negate meaning but expanded it; out with the old, in with the new. I decided to hard-press words together to see what can be made fresh and vital. It is a way to loosen the mind from its weak and rotted moorings. I have four other collections of poems – general categories that await a theme and close editing. All in good time.
HOW DOES YOUR WRITING PROCESS WORK?
I don’t have the slightest idea of how to answer that question. It is safe to say, each day I sit down and wait, usually not long, and begin to write. I prefer not to know where I’m going. I get more results having a certain yet general bearing. I tack like a sail boat into the wind. The other shore, the new land, is out to be discovered. When I silence my mind’s chatter I can hear what’s essential. There is always something out there on the sea or far down in the hold of my ship. Yesterday it was the robin at the base of the birch tree leaping up to peck insects not satisfied with the common fare on the ground. Today an idea from some deep recess of the mind – that the biblical figures of Sara and Agar is less an illustration of two historical peoples but a type of conflict in each person’s soul. There is always some motivation so the sails can be unfurled.
WHO ARE THE AUTHORS YOU MOST ADMIRE?
There are a bazillion, mostly poets, but if I must choose:
Jim Harrison: brawny, uncompromising, shameless, never dull, master of the modern novella (see Legends of the Fall (read the book than see the movie with Brad Pit and Julia Ormond)). A poet first and foremost, he began writing novels to stave off starvation after injuring himself bird hunting. His poems weren’t making any money (surprise) so a writer friend said why not try a novel. Since then his many novels, novellas and poetry books have won international acclaim. A native Michigander, twice I sat across from him at a table drinking wine and could not keep up drinking or thinking. His imagination associated so wildly I thought he was either loony or making up poems as he spoke. Reading him made me realize what is possible as a writer, even one with a troubled soul.
Others I admire and never tire of reading: Ted Kooser, a plain speaking poet who creates painterly poems of people and places and events was U.S. Poet Laureate 2004-06 (read Delights And Shadows; Norman O. Brown, philosopher and author of probing meditations on the soul, theology, politics and liberation (read Love’s Body); poet, essayist and novelist Czeslaw Milosz immigrated to the U.S. after WWll having survived the razing of the Warsaw ghetto (read his Collected works); American poet Walt Whitman whose Leaves of Grass opened up the line to admit the energy of the muscular American street in the mid-19th century; Gary Snyder, poet identified with the beats but transcended out of its pessimism early on with poems close to the land and a new way of living with it (read Turtle Island); Mary Oliver, an eternal optimist and observer of what is the ecstatic life (read her both volumes of her collected works; Denise Levertov is a master poet of the modern line and spiritual life energy (read Freeing of the Dust); Kabir and Rumi are ancient mystic poets who charted new regions of the human spirit we are only just now beginning to comprehend (read Coleman Barks translations of Rumi and Bly’s Kabir). There are novelists and non-fiction writers too: Walker Percy, John Updike, Saul Bellow, and Pat Frank” Alas Babylon, the first novel I ever read.