Saturday, August 4, 2007

poetry of witness

I have been thinking so much about this small gap in time we are moving through and the big changes in my own life (without, even, a true change in geography): meeting Carolyn Forche & becoming connected to the poetry community in a very deep and wonderful way, becoming someone's wife exactly one week from today, my travels to see two oceans this summer, the collapse of the 35W bridge, and beginning a new job (and dealing with what it means to have been budget cut from a job).

I approached this week's workshop with a manuscript that I both loathed and depended upon. This was, though rough, my twenty "best" poems, and one I added that I wrote on Tuesday. We dove into workshop, reading thick manuscript after manuscript, two working on their second book of poems, others with so many phrases that gave me chance to pause, to catch my breath, to revel in the beauty of words. I felt humbled in this room.

And in the middle of this week, the tragedy we are all so familiar with, though some of us are still lingering, still following the news incredibly closely, as the rest of the world has already moved on, thinking of home rooms and bombs in Baghdad. Our community is still so rocked by this, so precariously teetering on the realization of what has truly happened, how what we have lost is so grounded in the locality of our state, how we will always remember where we were when we found out, just as we might remember where we were on 9/11 (it was always The Fiance delivering such news, and I'd always thought it was less than it truly was--really? planes? but the Oklahoma City bombing had immediate causalities and--really? the bridge collapsed? no one will be hurt, right?). (Someone wouldn't let that happen, right? It couldn't happen, not to us; that always happens so far away.)

And the wedding! Of course, I cannot forget the wedding, with my dress hanging in the window, with the Adidas shoeboxes stacked in the dining room, with the RSVPs sorted, and my hairstyle debated. And the rain! It rained here today, and The Fiance told me there is a 30% chance of rain on our wedding day, which is supposed to give us luck, but we aren't affiliated with any church (or religion), so it will be awfully difficult to wander through the muck of a marina and woodsy park if there is rain about. I hate to wish for no rain; Minnesota is suffering from a fairly dramatic drought this summer. You can see it in the cornfields--the places where the green should be green but is just as yellowing as wheat, as the corn silk itself.

This summer has been so fast paced, and yet, working at This High School seems a thousand years ago. Here's the thing that is probably so human about my moving: I'm ready for it, the moving on, but I don't want my school to be ready. I want them to have some small ache, or suffering, for my absence. (At least, I know, Emily will miss me!) And everything about this summer: the theatre course, the trip to Charlotte, the writing workshop--it's all been so wonderful and so gratifying and so good for me (and I wish I could just have a life that is full of this--travel and experience and small moments of part time work and poetry, all the time, poetry)--but so much of this summer has felt like one preparation leading into another with so little time in between. I find myself wanting to reside in the moment, to mull it over, again and again--how I want to think about my work beyond this past week, how I want to think about redemption in what I am doing--but really, what is the very most important, and I cannot deny this: I am marrying my favorite person in the whole world in exactly seven days.

Other pieces of news I follow:

NY Times Article: Charles Simic Becomes Poet Laureate

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