Where I've Been....

Sorry I haven't been around much, I've been in the Emily Dickinson room, though not literally. I haven't been visiting her grave in Amherst or staying at the Sylvia Beach Hotel again. I've been in the words of my mss, making sure each one needs to be there, that each poem completes the story or "vision" (in quotes because it feels too big to say) I'm trying to share.

What I've learned about my manuscript? Certain words keep appearing: beetle, broken, blue, bees. And many others that don't start with B: God, maybe, letter, found. I've learned I am much happier when an image from my previous poem appears in the following poem and that I am somewhat OCB about certain things-- the last word, the first poem, the order, the alphabet, how themes and images circle back.

My worry is I allow my rational brain too much power over my emotional brain (the brain I trust most) and it ruins things. My rational brain is the guy who comes late to the party and starts tearing down decorations. My rational brain throws away the party favors because he views them as clutter. My rational brain begins sweeping up the confetti even before my emotional brain as tossed it. My rational brain needs to be holding a martini, honestly, if it wants to play with the poets and their poems.

So, that's where I've been. As my family heals from their deep cuts, I am sorting paper and being sliced in my own way, through paper and words, having conversations with Ms. Dickinson about my use of "stars" and this manuscript, what feels more and more just right, and that doesn't come from that ego place, but the gut that feels it wants to sit with it a while until it's time to wash dishes, to pick up the clutter that has entered my own living room. Yes, the Emily Dickinson room is a place where my life and my writing collide.

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Also, I just received the most beautiful book in the mail... (Thanks, Maya!) more on that soon!


  1. I like what you've said here about the rational brain and irrational brain and poetry.

    Somewhere in one of his essays, Robert Bly talks about the need for people to pay attention to the growth of the parts of their psyches that are the most submerged. (He draws quite a bit on Jungian ideas in the essay in which he talks about this.)

    Specifically regarding poets, Bly suggests that the strongest and most essential qualities of our poems tend also to come from those parts of ourselves that are the most deeply buried or invisible. Sometimes that may be the more irrational or intuitive parts of a person, though it can vary with each individual.


    Off-topic maybe, but just wanted to say I enjoyed finding a poem of yours in the Tom McGrath tribute anthology Eating the Pure Light. I went to AWP in Chicago this year, and The Backwaters Press had contributor copies there.

    Tom McGrath is one of the poets huge in my life as a poet. I love that the anthology is out. Lots of great poems.

  2. Lyle, thanks! I haven't received my anthology yet, but I've already heard great things abou it.

    Thanks for your comment. I think Bly is right on.

  3. Lyle, thanks! I haven't received my anthology yet, but I've already heard great things abou it.

    Thanks for your comment. I think Bly is right on.


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