One builds a house of what is there . . .
December marked one year of living in Denver . . . nothing has occurred as we’d expected, and nothing is going as planned. Oddly, I am getting used to being unmoored.
The poems I wrote during that chaotic twelve-month period are stark, more narrative than my usual style. The only explanation I can come up with is that when you’re up against the wall, you don’t write lyric poetry. I quite literally felt I was nailing down each word, each line, so it wouldn't get away. The theme of my poems has been predictably, home, houses, moving, change . . . and it runs continuously through this what I'm calling, "a small chapbook." Only 26 pages, counting all of the front matter.
What I’m feeling is relief, relief that in spite of a year of immense change, I produced a body of work. I've been telling people I'm not writing, and I'm not writing as I normally would, batches of poems created in periods of literary passion; but instead, a slow and steady stream of words turning to lines turning to poems.
Where we live, how we live, the people we let in, the people we turn away, all of these things matter in life, and in our writing. The landscape matters. I used to question poetry of place, thinking it simple. I've come to see that all poetry is landscape poetry, all is impacted my our exterior climate, as well as our interior.
Someone told me they couldn't wait to read my "dry" poems that would come from living in the mile high city. And possibly these narrative poems are my dry poems, they definitely lack the emotionalism of my Oregon poems. They also lack water, which mirrors this land of stark, dry beauty.
I'm sending the manuscript out, I'm filled with expectation that someone will take it, print it, give it wings. And now I'm writing haiku, which is centering me, and a non-fiction book that is un-centering me. This is creative tension, which has always been my inner landscape, the struggle to understand, to nail down a feeling, an image.
As I type, there is a squirrel out my window, his tail just gently moving, then he bites himself and hugs his tail . . . and I am transported somewhere else. And this, this moment, is its own landscape.
squirrel in winter
sprinting from branch to branch
My writing often deals with the environment, my poetry filled with allusions to natural and man-made disasters. I have unlimited hope though; there is just too much wonder in this world to become a defeatist. To quote Margaret J. Wheatley, '"Hopelessness has surprised me with patience."