Saturday, April 24, 2010

National Poetry killing me.

Not really, but close.

I love it, of course, but a sonnet a day? Plus a decision I made to read all of Shakespeare's sonnets within the month? Yeah, I have very little free time.

But I am learning a great deal about poetry by trying out form in this way. I'm going to have a lot to say about it when the time finally comes where I have free time again.

I was published in the latest edition of Hazard Community and Technical College's literary journal, Kudzu. And I was invited to read at a special poetry reading for those who were published within the journal. Plus, Bianca was their guest of honor, and a work shop leader at the Spring Writer's Conference the very next day (I attended last year's, where fellow Affrilachian Poet Mitch Douglas ran a workshop. And I got to attend my first, and thus far only, class with Gurney Poet, our poet laureate and my hero).

But let me tell you how this day went. I need it on record.

Hazard is about a three hour drive for me. So I leave at 2. Gives me an extra hour, right? Well, I go to Kroger, get some water, some strawberries and kiwis which have been pre-cut, and some dried fruit (which I eventually found out had sugar added. WTF) since it was my first day post fast. And lemme tell you, I enjoyed the hell out of that fruit.

But before I left, I decided I'd just write the address down. I've been stressing about the job interview the next day (more on that at a later date, I promise you) and the reading itself, and so on, so I just saved myself the trouble of clearing my interview clothes off my printer, and just wrote the address down, to enter into my GPS.

10 minutes, at Kroger: I realize that it doesn't have the address IN my GPS, but I've wasted a good amount of my extra time already, so I call Regan, ask her to enter it into mapquest, and tell her to read me the second to last direction. I'm essentially going to go as far as my GPS knows to get, and then turn onto the last road, which I'm hoping I can see as I'm driving up the SECOND to last road... Done and done.

2 hours: An accident on the part of 75 south of Lexington which becomes a two lane highway. A semi has crossed over into the opposite traffic and slammed into the hill to the right of us. 30 minute to 45 minute delay.

4.5 hours: That second to last road that Regan told me about? It's a gravel road that goes about 45 degrees uphill. I almost get stuck going up it, to find a trailer, and a dog. Not a college. I've figured out by now, there must be two roads with this name. I have no reception, so I drive around aimlessly until I do, stop in the middle of the road, and hurriedly try to explain to a sleeping Regan that I need new directions. Regan gives them to me (all the roads, and there are 6 of them, are numbers and not names. Argh), and I realize I am half an hour away. The event has started.

5 hours: No reception, phone is dying, but I've been somewhat in contact with Bianca. I am close, I tell her. Driving up and down one of the last roads, looking for a road that I can not find. I see a sign that says Hazard Technical. I am there, I tell her. I go to the visitor's center. Don't see a library. Talk to the people in the parking lot. They say this is the Technical campus. I want the other campus. They give me directions. Go down the road (to 65? I can't recall anymore) and keep going until you see the restaurants. You'll see a turn there.

5 hours, 15 minutes: The road they told me to get to? When I get to it, it splits. One way is directly forward, the other way is slightly to the left. I decide that, given that they didn't tell me about this, they meant for me to go straight. Straight is always the unsaid direction. No reception, so I just drive. And drive. And drive.

5 hours, 30 minutes: This must be the opposite way. I'll give it 5 more minutes, because I can't afford to turn around, then turn around again. Almost out of gas.

6 hours: I've turned around by now. And here is the college. I park immediately, run around campus until I see the library, and come inside, where Bianca is reading her poetry, near the end of the event. Bianca sees me, and in one of the most gracious acts I have ever experienced, finished her poem, pointed me out to the crowd as a poet who still needed to read, and asked if I could perform after her.

This is from the feature poet, a woman who has a new book, and deserves the final spotlight.

I go up to read two poems, and sit down, panting.

We went to a country club, afterwards, a bunch of us, faculty and poets from all over mid-to-central Kentucky. I got a very salty, but by this time, delicious salad, and I got to enjoy yet another awesome meal with fellow AP Bianca, and my second with Gurney.

I really want to express how thankful I am for Bianca (who, by the way, mentioned me in her book, and gave me an awesome signed copy) and the APs.

But for now, I have quite a lot of work to do, and quite a little time to do it.

Friday, April 2, 2010

It's national poetry month!

There is a kind of universal ritual that takes place this month among a lot of poets, which is the 30 poems in 30 days challenge. Oftentimes, we share many, if not all, of the poems we write during this oh-so-holy time for poetry.

Last year, I was unemployed during national poetry month, and partially because of this, and partially because I was feeling particularly inspired, I decided to write 2 poems every day. 60 poems in 30 days. It was one of my more ridiculous (and yet still, to me, good) ideas.

But I continued writing a poem a day from that point until today, and so I can't really participate in the 30 poems in 30 days challenge, and 2 poems a day seems almost pointless when I've written over 365 in the last year. So I decided to up the ante in a different manner this year.

That's right, I'm writing 30 form poems in 30 days. I'm thinking sonnets.

Additionally, a lot of the other Affrilachian Poets are participating in a juice fast for 21 days of the month. So I went out, bought a juicer and a bunch of fruit and veggies, and am participating in that as well. As a form of meditation. I have never meditated before. It's kind of distracting and painful, in an empty-stomach kind of way. Plus I have a headache that is un-fast related.

But my first fruit drink was delicious. 1 inch if ginger, 6 apples, and half a lemon. Had a kick to it, because I think I might be unable to tell the difference between 1 and 2 inches of ginger. And let me tell you, after a long day of work, knowing you have to write a sonnet afterwards, and being hungrier than hell, it is NOT fun having to go to Walmart, buy all the stuff you need to get nutrients, and then figure out how to use the damn thing.

But without further ado, my very first sonnet:

Sonnet 1

How I detested her food. My mother's
soft broccoli, lima beans. Liver and greens.
Encaged by hated vegetables. Others
ate quickly, were off, unshackled and free.

Hunger was master. I'd beg and then swill
tears from the yard concerning my next meal.
Metal cup banging badly for its fill,
I clasped her hands to drag her by her heals

Because unthankful as I was before,
I've dragged around that tinny busted cup.
With work, had little time or soup to pour.
Appeared, before, and expected her love.

Arrested—brimming now at kitchen floor,
I spill words, to her hands, when they serve more.