Friday, February 25, 2005

Poems about the Muse

Can anybody think of poems addressed to the muse or invoking the muse? I'm looking for contemporary examples, but I'm drawing a complete blank. The reason I ask is that I'm having my American Lit students create a mini anthology this semester. It's an assignment I've never done before, so I thought I'd make up an example for them this weekend.

As I flip though books and think about this, I think that often a poet turns the subject of the poem into the muse--I'm thinking of apostrophe in general, Kock's New Addresses in particular. I feel comfortable asserting that many books--I'll use my book, The Zydeco Tablets, as an example--have a single/primary/central source of inspiration.

When I say muse, I also mean he-muses. I have a he-muse.

I appreciate the comments I've had so far--I'm looking to create a blogroll so that I can link to the sites I visit, but I'm a little slow at this and keep messing it up.


Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Are Writers Lazy?

I can remember the good old days, before children and a full time job, when I could spend the whole day doing nothing but getting ready to write. I'd wake up, get dressed, teach a class, maybe meet my hubby for coffee or something, and usually I'd be back at home before lunch with the rest of the day left "to write."

Now that I have so little time, I frequently try to remember exactly how I squandered three years in Arkansas and another six months in Livingston Parish. During my writing time I would stare out the window, pace through the apartment with ants in my pants, unable to sit at the desk, walk a few blocks to the florist to get a single flower for the vase on my desk, walk to the coffee shop for coffee, stop in the bead shop. . . Once I spent an entire afternoon in the car driving from gourmet store to gourmet stoere (few of these in Arkansas) looking for some kind of cheese I needed for a recipe.

I know some people would argue that all of these activities are necessary for the writer, that a poem is brewing inside of me even if I am not actually writing it down, that these types of activities are part of my education and so on. But I can't let myself believe that. I think I was being lazy. I would kill for that time now, those days when I would pussyfoot around until late afternoon and then finally drag out the notebook.

That line I always give about being a slow writer isn't evn halfway true. I waste a lot of time.

In my defense though, I feel the need to add that when I do have something going I drop EVERYTHING and devote myself to the poem.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Pre-Rejection, or, Picking Scabs, or, Salt in the Wound

I think that hearing about rejection a single time should be enough. But that's not the way things work anymore.

For example--all November I waited and waited for a phone call from Cliff Becker and the NEA telling me that the third time was a charm--I was going to be one of the recipients of an artist's fellowship. I was ready to go with a demand for a raise at work, a new line on my resume, etc. But before I had a chance to not get my phone call the buzz started. Names of brilliant poets were spoken, and mine was absent from the list. What the hell? Why were they yanking my chain?

I was disappointed about this and worked hard to make peace with it. (Mopoing around, drinking too much wine for a few days in a row.) Then I was over it. Then I got the "We're so sorry" note a week or so later and had to begin the process again.

I do not like this. I do not like rejection. I really do not like pre-rejection. But that's what I got today. So I find myself moping around, waiting for that other shoe to hit me in the back of the head while I fret over new work, looking over my shoulder at a half empty bottle of wine.

Book on the Brain

I have been shopping around this monster of a chapbook for a while now--a year to be exact--and nobody wants it. Nobody. Yesterday, or maybe Sunday, I was struck with the realization of why nobody wants the book. The poems are strong, they are thematically linked but not everly so, and I have a cool title. The problem is that I think I chose the title too soon and have been adding poems to "fill it in" and force the book to take a certain shape. I wonder why it has taken a year for me to figure out that I should do an overhaul on the book, esp. considering how my writing has changed directions so much over the last year.

I have copies of all of my poems with me--as soon as I get back from my second class I am locking myslf in the office and spreading all that crap out on the floor. (About the fiftieth time I have done this.) I will not be opening the door until I have an order for the poems and a title for the book.

I have pretty much decided on a title for the book, but I don't want to list it here, as I have already learned the hard way that I can't copyright a title.

You know, I don't even care so much about spending a year working in the wrong direction now that I have a clear idea of how to reverse the trend and back out of this cave.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Cocoon de laid

I started this blog because I though I had so many things to say about poetry nd writing, but now on day two I find that I can't think of much. I've already deleted a boring paragraph about opening poetry mail, and I was trying to write a response to the question 'what do you do when a poem is stuck' but I don't know what I do. Most of the time I just think real hard about giving up, and then I get over it. So maybe I'll write about the name of my blog.

Cochon de lait is French for suckling pig or roasted pig. Once I used the word in a poem as a term of endearment spoken by a man to a woman. I liked it so much I used it another poem. Then people had heard it so much that it sort of turned into a joke--everybody shouting out cochon de lait, cochon de lait, which is kind of funny if you think about it. So that's where the idea came from. I was pretty certain that no one else would use that name for a blog.

As soon as I can figure out how to put links on my sidebar I am going to list the other blogs that I like to check out.


PS If I pay any attention to spell check it tells me to write cocoon of laid.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Barn Burned Down

I have felt very down recently for a number of reasons, primarily work, though work, like most things, connects pretty closely with my writing sometimes. I am coming down off of a very productive streak--five poems start to finish since December--and now, as I knew would happen, I have hit "the wall."

When I get like this I over react to most things and sit around brooding, worried that I'll never write again, that the poems I've just finished are shit, that the whole thing has just been a joke and that all the other poets are locked up in a closet somewhare, laughing thier asses off while crumple up page after page from my tablet. The funny thing is that I know that at some point there will be a turnaround, and that when I hear other people express the same type of feeling I am pretty intolerant of them.

So today starts off in the dumps--work, but mainly a few poems I just can't get with, one in particular. And just as I was rocking my son to sleep it hit me--a way to pass though this major roadblock (all I have to do is change the title, then I'll be able to do what I am trying to do in the poem). I rush to my computer, check email, and come across this quote from a member of a listserve of which I am a member:

Barn burned down. Now I can see the moon.

And this line helps me even more, rescuing the poem from oblivion, rescuing me from a night of Law & Order reruns.

So I guess I'm giving thanks.