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An Appointment with the Muse

mcwc_afterMood: Pensive
Drinking: Vitamin Water

A few days of writing exercises will do wonders for your word bank.

I’ve just returned from a writing conference and my notebook (and my poor squishy brain) are brimming with half-finished but promising starts and a fine numbered list of new ideas. (One of which is a poem about LeeLoo and her crispy tongue.)

I was surprised to find that I was one of the youngest writing conference attendees (except for a ragtag band of local high school overachievers). I confess I thought I’d be mingling with a few less bluehairs and a few more writers of my own age bracket.

But GenX was nowhere to be found. And the retired folks were very nice. So it wasn’t a big deal. Just kind of weird.

My instructors were both new to me — Albert Garcia (whose latest book, Skunk Talk, is reviewed here) and Maya Khosla.

Although both of their books are published by Bear Star Press, I found both their teaching styles and their poetry to be quite different from each other.

Maya is a biologist who has lived all over the world, and her writing very much reflects her work (as in my favorite poem of hers, “Lake Trout in a Gill Net” — you can find it in her book Keel Bone).

Albert is a university administrator (and former professor), whose beautiful, spare writing details his love of ordinary things, places, moments, people. (I really love his poem “August Morning,” which is reprinted in this review).

I collected a lot of great ideas and encouragment from both poets, and if I follow through on all the writing threads I started at this conference (which I intend to), my pen and I will stay very busy for the rest of the year, at least.

And now for the re-entry into the neverending rush of everyday living… back to work, to business, to jury duty (insert annoyed face), to reality.

-Lo, who wonders when her own hair will turn blue.

The Writing Muscle

Mood: Procrastinating
Drinking: Tooth-rottingly sweet tea

Soon and very soon, I’m off to a conference for poets and writers.

I’m not sure what to expect. Writers often tend to be quite competitive, myself included. You always want to be the best in the room. Trouble is, “The Best” is so very subjective.

I tend to think that poets like Nicole Blackman are far better than your average stuffed poet laureate. But that’s me.

I went to a poetry reading the other night and watched a woman in green bob her head emphatically up and down like some sort of epileptic chicken at nearly everything the featured reader said. Clearly, she thought his overwrought, pedantic, self-important stanzas were the cat’s meow.

I, on the other hand, thought he was in rather desperate need of an editor. And an enema. (Rawr!)

So you see, different strokes…

Perhaps I’ll meet fellow writers who are lovely and kind, fellow poets who turn fine phrases without rancor. (I know they exist — I met one named Gary just the other night.)

But really, I’ll just be happy to exercise my own writing muscles, to learn new things about words and craft and self. There’s always room to learn and grow. No matter who you think you are.

And as added impetus for the wordy weekend ahead, a friend sent me this poem in an email titled, “Why I love and worship Auden.” It’s an amazing piece of work, not only for its beauty but also for its resounding truth…

Musee des Beaux Arts
by W.H. Auden
About suffering they were never wrong,
the Old Masters; how well, they understood
its human position; how it takes place
while someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
for the miraculous birth, there always must be
children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
on a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
that even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer’s horse
scratches its innocent behind on a tree.
In Breughel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
but for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
as it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

-Lo, once more into the breach.