30 July 2008

Just one fix.


This one's for the poets out there.

How do you feel when you haven't written a poem (or you haven't written the poem you've wanted to write) in what seems like a long time?

I feel like I've been surviving on Diet Coke, chewy granola bars, sugar-free altoids, and benedryl, and spending all of my time locked in tiny rooms with overzealous air conditioning.

I mean, yesterday they kept testing this speaker system in the library, and Jay and I were about ready to go and beast somebody. And normally we would've just laughed.

I can calm down. Everything will get done. I will get time to write, without interruptions, before 2010. The poem will come out. Right?

So how do you feel when your poem machine's on the fritz, and the repair man ain't available until next Tuesday?

18 comments:

Valerie Loveland said...

If I don't write for awhile I feel like there is a negative coating over everything. I start getting a bad attitude and act too sensitive and impatient. I don't know why until I realize I haven't written anything in awhile.

(I am having one of those weeks right now).

jeannine said...

I'm with you on the Benadryl!
But don't worry - sometime soon you won't be thinking about writing, you'll be doing something mentally refreshing - a concert, a movie, a museum, a great novel - and bang! the poem will hit. Do not fear.
This might sound crazy, but sometimes reading old writing with a certain cadence out loud helps too - I read old-fashioned Bible passages (something poetic - Lamentations or Isaiah) or 1950's translations of Ovid or the beginning of Anne Karenina, even song lyrics - something, in other words, totally different than the tones and rhythms of contemporary poetry - to help "spring" the poetry back.
Good luck!

Penultimatina said...

Valerie--the negative coating is exactly right!

Jeannine--I think I am in dire need of some mental refreshment. :)

Talia said...

I remind myself that, although I love poetry and have a lot of ambition and dreams, it's not the priotity...and that is probably the reason. I have a long life ahead of me and someday the child will be grown and out of the house and they'll be plenty of time to be alone with the pen.

Justin Evans said...

I'm in the "No Poem Zone" right now. I need two more for my latest chapbook, and they refuse to show.

You and your musical references. From the Rolling Stones to Ministry? What will the neighbors think? And maybe it was my imagination, but did I actually see a RevCo nod?

Karen J. Weyant said...

I'm with Jeannine,

I don't try to fight it -- mostly, something comes along, a book, or something that I read on the Internet, and then I'm off again.

But when I'm not writing, I feel like there is something missing, like a forgot my purse in a local store, or something.

Penultimatina said...

Justin, sometimes I wonder if you're the only one out there who catches my rich, esoteric industrial rock allusions... ;)

Laura Without Labels said...

I go through this problem a lot. I do not have a super high output for poetry. I kind of struggle with making myself feel bad about it. I think a lot of it has to do with insecurities about my newb status of being active in the literary community. I'll get over it though.

I went through a time period where I didn't write any new poetry for over a year. I wasn't making it a priority and was rather isolated as well. I think being around other writers who can offer feedback has been the best motivation for me.

I agree with reading other poetry aloud. Also, I highly recommend just simply trying new things, being adventurous and living life. Run naked through a cemetery. I got a few poems out of that one.

Steven D. Schroeder said...

Never trust a junkie.

When I have a poem that's refusing to come out right, it feels like climbing a mountain, and I can't see the top or the bottom. There's a real physical feeling of strain to it.

By the way, how do you beast somebody? It's making me giggle to picture it...

Karen J. Weyant said...

Ha! In regards to Steve's comment -- I was going to note the fun typo, but I am thinking, there are days I could beast somebody!

Diane Lockward said...

You can do what I'm about to do, ie, sign into a hotel in Kingston, NY, have room service bring your dinner, go to an all-day workshop tomorrow in a beautful country setting, and spend the day with Dorianne Laux and Joseph Millar. Hoping to come home with all the poems that have been hiding inside of me.

P. J. said...

I wait 3 years and write a dissertation instead.

Which begs the question...what happens when *that* machine breaks? Should I write a poem now instead and turn that in to my committee? I will title it "20% Done Is 100% Fine With Me."

newzoopoet said...

I love P.J.'s poem title!

What My Fingers Remember said...

I give myself 15 minutes and just start writing--whatever comes to mind. If I can squeeze a good line, or a worthwhile phrase out of it (no matter how isoteric), then I use that as a starting prompt for a poem.

Peter

Rachel Mallino said...

gosh, I wish I had Diane Lockward's life.

Jordan said...

I had a feeling Steve would beast me to the question.

My cure-all for poetry blues: Write a fake poem. Corollary: Write a poem in a style not your own.

Bernadette Geyer said...

I tell myself I'm taking a "vacation from writing" and take my daughter to the pool, the playground, the botanical gardens. Then I throw myself into completely mindless work -- like cutting vegetables or weeding the garden -- and while I'm doing the mindless work I just let my mind wander and sometimes a subject will emerge as a starting point for a poem.

Usually if I tell myself I'm "on vacation", I forgive myself enough to forget about the stress I usually feel if I just focus on the idea that I "should be writing".

Collin said...

I feel very anxious when the poems don't come. I made myself sit down this weekend and write and squeezed out two first drafts, one of which is a keeper. The other is barely clinging to life. When I can't write, I always turn to poets I love for inspiration.

By the by, I've added you to my blogroll. :)