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Friday, April 17, 2009

A Little Bleary Eyed but Still Very Lit

So before going to bed last night, being all room and womb of one's own, I had to (of course) type up my notes from my drive from Seattle to Spokane. 

No, in case you were asking, I do not pull over to write; yes, I will probably drive off the road one day--in fact, the other day I hit the curb on MLK Boulevard, but I was neither writing nor talking, I was, in fact, listening to a very early recording of The Grinch and falling asleep.

I stay awake with music, not the squeaky voice of Cindy Lou Who, who by the way my daughter pipes right up with (1) why doesn't she tell the Grinch to get OUT of her house? and (2) She's two, so how come she's talking? and (3) and besides, he doesn't even look anything like Santa Claus. Okay, sure, very astute, but meantime I'm falling into a Suessian freaking COMA. 

But anyway, back to Spokane and Get Lit! 

I'd forgotten (or was too lazy) to go to the grocery store, so my dinner continued to be: Bite Size Everything Crackers, string cheese, and a very nice chocolate cookie w white chocolate chips. This, I am sure, is what prompted me to stay up past midnight working on a poem about paneling, panels, and . . . lipstick. 

Actually, it might have more to do with the fact that I'm writing in a notebook that is (1) pink and (2) festooned with silver sequins. I swear! It was only $2.59 at Walgreen's. I'm telling you, this is a FIND. I think the sequins are channeling my muse. In fact,  I think this is the first time I've successfully channeled a/my/any muse. I think it's Calliope, but then again it might be Aeode. 

But there's a downside to channeling one's muse, and that is . . . sleep deprivation. And really strange dreams about being in Los Angeles and chewing out a friend for god knows what. 

Anyway, up at 6 am and top-o-the-morning back to my paneling poem (wainscotting! drill bits! subverting the post-post-post-post it!) right up till the moment I needed to be in the lobby to convene for my (of course) panel on how poets write and draft their poems. 

Thank goodness I was 3rd out of three presenters, cuz I got to take notes on how Ken Letko and Oliver de la Paz did it (and man, they did it right). Ken provided a little window into his process by sharing a story about witnessing an organic corn farmer (his sign actually says CRON) walk away from his stall at the farmer's market and return with a greasy bag of goodies from Burger King. For Ken, that was his AHA! moment, and he wrote a fine poem that took off from there. Oliver was great because he immediately thwarted the age-old assumption that writers pare down and/or tweak/fine-tune their poems in revision and are obsessive about keeping drafts. Immediately he set us straight: this poet writes to expand and loses drafts on purpose for the sake of revisiting an image or a lost line in a new and fresher way. How cool is that?! 

Then it was my turn, gasp. I am always just fine with my nerves until just before I begin to speak into a microphone, and then my heart starts poking out of my mouth. I was hoping (praying?) that the eight drafts I'd sent the moderator to copy for the audience had immolated themselves when they were sent through cyberspace, but there they were, all eight of them, staring up at me, all expectant to hear why I'd made each and every editorial decision. Which of course I didn't share (notably, none of us shared about how these decisions about what to cut, expand, say, not say, etc., get made); instead, I made fun of some of my earlier ways of phrasing things ("chipmunk mouthed" and a peculiar overuse of the words "sober" and "poor," then highlighted when the poem started to improve (like when I typed "periodontal hardship"), and ended by reading the newest (maybe final?) revision. So I didn't pass out after all. 

And now I have the afternoon off, or the next couple of hours, to check in with my comp students, read from the spring '09 issue of Willow Springs (it's sooooo good), and then it's . . . an Evening of Poetry and Song at the Europa. Can't wait for that . . . 


Kells said...

So nice to hear your report. I was right with you, the Grinch, the sequined notebook. I think your muse is Marilyn Monroe.

Have a great time!

Martha Silano said...

Channeling my inner Marilyn: love it!

seanag said...

Martha, my only experience of public reading of my work was exactly like that. No fear, until I got up on stage and looked out at the audience. I wasn't afraid of them, exactly, but my body went into some sort of weird fight or flight mode, I guess.

Your notebook find makes me want to scour the available stores for cheap notebooks tomorrow. Who knows what muses may want to descend through them, given half a chance. Don't think I will come up with one half as nice as yours, though.

Martha Silano said...

hi seana,

glad to find a compatriot in stage fear. actually, i used to be much, much worse. now it usually disappears before i open my mouth to speak.

i swear by walgreen's and its sequined pink notebooks.