Sunday, February 19, 2006

A Good Idea

Friday morning, on a bus to meetings in my office with students because the babysitter's car broke down on the way to taking me there and all the power in the car died including steering and brakes just as we were coming into a busy icy intersection, it struck me: an idea so simple and basic and doable and good that I truly don't know why I didn't think of it before. It would involve not a lot of time but would fulfill the most basic part of the poet in me, something I love, which fuels me, impels me into possibilities. And, hey, what else can anyone else ask for?

It started as a stressed reverie about being late and missing another meeting with one my best undergrad poets (Intermediate Poetry Workshop), about how much more simpler life might be or not be if I were like everybody else and could just get in my car and go when I want to; or why I don't have a cell phone/ text messaging, etc. For the same reason I don't ride my bike anymore since giving birth to my son, I've become paranoid about protecting "my investment", my mind, and can't risk brain damage; holding intense and strange electromagnetic energy pressed to your medulla oblongata several hours a day just doesn't strike me as prudent. But it would have allowed me to call and explain: I was stuck on a bus on one of the coldest, iciest days in Boulder and freaked out about my son in the car in the parking lot with the babysitter with a faulty battery wire. And missed telling someone how much I liked his poems, how exciting it is to see a voice take shape, like looking into a microscope at the exact moment of conception when cells start dividing and find the power of motion unto themselves. I like looking into the microscope just for the satisfaction of that moment. As every true poem teaches us, the poets, something about how to make a poem, just as making love will do if we care to pay attention. And to know I can help people. This teaching stuff appeals to the Chicana in me who just wants to help people or as Marge Piercy put it in the poem and book by that title: it allows me To Be Of Use.

I decided early on that I wasn't going to blog about students or teaching, not current teaching. For those of you just joining me on this journey, this blog is for, by and of The Dead. This is why I never correct my spelling errors or typos, I just correct the live links because The Dead know all anyway, or, it doesn't matter anyway. And The Dead aren't interested in teaching -- Death is the only lesson, the Death that walks beside us awaiting personification.

Sometimes I long to be Ana or Sandra, the new novelist in me, who can just shun the enormous debt to my time and creative energy I pay by paying attention to new writers and students beyond my own at the U, high school students, critics. . . Not that they don't do the same -- they do; but they actively carve out a private space and anonymity that shuts out the possibility of much interaction beyond the superficial. I feel a deep sense of responsibility to canon-building, for want of a better term; that logos of Machado's building the road as we speak it -- as Xicanerati, as Chicanaos, as People of Experience. I have spent my entire adult life, since I was an adolescent really, dedicated to finding out and ferreting out who's good in poetry. MANGO was a labor of love, as any poet/publisher experiences it; it took a lot of time and work away from my own work to make it my business to find and publish the best. I had been reading, finally, on friday morning, the list of Neglectorinos, the challenge to current fellow profs to teach at least one person from the list. I realized that just that past week I had lent out my copies of no fewer than ten of the listed writers to students that week in my office. "Here/Hear! Read this." I realized, too, that coming of poetic age in the Bay Area in the late 60s - early 70s as a independent press hound, my entire exposure to poetry had been exposure to "Neglectorinos", those "Poets' poets" who write or drink or work or love themselves into obscurity. This is why I detest all Schools of Poetry, all theories of taxonomies and taxidermy. SHOW ME THE BOOK! I say. Give me the poem. And, please, stick to the words on the page -- something I learned via Bob from that other Neglectorino, Ivor Winters. Ironically.

I'd been trying to think this to T. Why I don't just hang it up, the petty power-broking that goes on in an department not based on verifiable facts but the physics of fictions, and by not sticking to THE BOOK, but muttering off the page onto constructing literary dynasties fit only for a king and his many concubines -- for example. But just work like I worked as printer. You get up. Clean up. Get dressed. Do the work. Pile up the pages. (The line is straight or it's not. The type is inked or it's not. The color is Pantone code specific or it's not.) Living in the IT's of life and not doomed to dong to depression on the ITS of things. You go in, you do the work and you go home. Unfortunately, typically so boned tired all you want to do is zone out in front of the silly-tube after eating and falling asleep on the couch as opposed to having the stamina to read, say, Silliman speak on poetics and the School of Quietude. Something sounds heavenly in just hanging it all and going into business for myself, for instance, my ChayaMaya business, and never having to think about anyone else's delicate Muse but my own. But I know that wouldn't work. Just like it doesn't work to think I could just stop blogging and reading po'blogs because it takes so much time. What I get in return, by reading a really good poem by someone I had never heard of before, and probably not likely to ever hear of or read otherwise is enormous in the pay off.

I'm working on a couple of reviews, for the first time, now that I've become a little more confident in my prose, and pushed a bit past my lifelong prose block, mostly due to this blog. But, I know it's not enough. And, like Robert Pinsky with whom I worked as a contributing editor to an anthology of the "Best" American poetry for Norton -- which never saw the light of a laser print due to neither of us being into crowning kings for a living -- I would like to do an anthology, some day will, but for that King-thing. Who can say what's the Best in America? Who's "now" do we address? Good poets are always more aware of what's left out of a text than what's in it.

It's the midwife in me. I want to help catch the babies.

So, I got this idea. . .


Blogger Noel said...

(Coming from a complete stranger, this may come off as a bit gratuitous, but I feel this entry warrants it):

¡Viva la poesía y el MANGO! EAT POETRY!

3/3/06 18:43  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay Learn More
$223,693,000,000 The Most Expensive Impeachment In History!
Cost of the War in Iraq
To see more details, click here.
Radical Women of Color Bloggers
Join | List | Previous | Next | Random | Previous 5 | Next 5 | Skip Previous | Skip Next