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  •  Beautiful read, thank you (1+ / 0-)
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    The Geogre

    I'm a poet, yeah, I know. But really I am. So it's great to read your close readings of the poems you presented. I love close readings.

    I never acquired a husband (though I had several sweet loves), never bore kids, and my siblings did the whole great career, marriage, kids thing. I moved to NYC where I could be a poet in peace. My family never got it. They always saw me as a ne'er do well. In my middle-age years, I would make an effort to spend Christmas with them, sometimes Thanksgiving. I'm Jewish, but my bro converted, so they do Christmas. One Christmas, my sis-in-law gave me a pair of very expensive boots with rather steep heels on them. I never wear heels.

    It showed me that they really don't see me. When they give me presents, they buy presents for the me they'd like me to be. I've never been that person, and never will be that person. So I stopped hanging out there on holidays, and stayed in NYC with my poet and political friends. I learned a long time ago to create my own family with people who get me, and people I get.

    Freedom is an inside job. That's what I've learned. And whether I'm alone or with people, it's always an inside job. When I've been on a crazy job where people didn't get me, it's still an inside job. When I'm in any situation, freedom is still an option, because I've learned how to keep that light glowing. It takes effort sometimes, but it's worth it.

    Not trying to deny emotions. Have been through several dark nights of the soul. Have stared deeply into my eyes when they are darkest with fear and sorrow. Not easy. But I know my emotions quite well now. I know where anger clinches my body, where fear tightens my gut and jaws, how sorrow empties my energy. Important not to repress emotions. But also important to know how not to sink into them and let them cover me like a shroud. Here's the ending of my long poem, Duties of My Heart:

    When in the midnight lamentation
    I have lost my eyes from weeping.
    When my sighs shake the wilderness
    and paradise mis-fires
    it is the duty of my heart
    to ask me if
    I want to dance.
    I always do.
    And so I live
    when the agencies of presence
    blood and breath
    put on this name
    and play the living moment.
    It is the duty of my heart
    to remind me
    that my lips illuminate this cup of tea
    and the abyss that swallows
    is the source
    of my fullness.

    This poem really taught me a lot, which is one reason I write. I learn so much writing a poem. I begin with one idea, and by the end, the poem usually takes me some place I didn't know I was going to go. I've gone on quite a bit here, not sure if it resonates with you, but hopefully some part of it will.

    You are a beautiful writer. I hope you write poetry too.

    •  Thank you (0+ / 0-)

      I found out that I was not a poet, but also that I had no scope, and so I was left with the small scale attention to image and rhythm of poetry but without the satisfactions of form or capacity to innovate technically there. That meant that "sudden fiction" and the essay were my form, although I had no idea that the extremely short short story organized around image or epiphany had a name when I started doing it.

      I did manage a couple of long pieces, but only by convincing myself that I was just describing a present moment. Once that present moment stretched on beyond any customary length and could not be squashed, I was stuck with describing.

      I enjoy the essay form. We may be in an age of the essay, although we dare not say so. It is what the blog does, and whole armies of writers have adapted and learned the form.

      I think you're right: freedom is always only from within, but that is the ultimate and the defiant. Like Hopkins, we can strain and toil, but we feel like asking, "Is it too much to hope for a haven that is home?" Graduate students learn early that all of these are temporized, and by the time one emerges as a faculty member, one knows that, if one missed marriage, all the families will be tenuous webs. Either people stop trying or they make do.

      I have a nice network, myself, most years, but the empire of the calendar, with its demands, sometimes is best fought with solitude.

      Time is not a fiction; it is a narrative.

      by The Geogre on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 03:37:25 AM PST

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      •  We approach poetry and family (2+ / 0-)
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        broths, The Geogre

        somewhat differently I see. For me, the haven that is home is always within me.

        Yes, there are different "families" at different times, temporized, as you say. But there are always one-three soul mates in each temporized family that have stayed in my life and have a deeper connection to my heart than most of my family members.

        But perhaps I had a head start in learning that freedom is an inside job. I was raised Jewish in a small, Southern Baptist town, and from the moment I walked into kindergarten was continuously put in a separate box from the rest of the kids. I learned early to create my own group, usually with the other misfits (which is why I lived so long in NYC when I got out of high school).

        Also, I'm a long time meditator. Meditation really freed me from dwelling in certain dark hallways and taught me how to find peace with what is. I'm reporting this as if it was easy, it wasn't. It was a struggle. But worth the results.

        And the poetry school with which I am associated is the New York School (Ashbery, Guest, Kock, O'Hara, Berrigan, Padgett, Waldman), and one of the teachings of that school involved creating poetry communities. There was lots of hanging out and collaborating on poetry and various poetry projects. Ted Berrigan, my teacher, was great at showing us how to create our own community and family of poets.

        So my initial isolation in my hometown, my meditation, and the wonderful poets who schooled me I guess all contributed to my being able to be less attached to my blood family than I am to my heart connection family. Because that what it is about really. A heart connection. And heart connections are not limited by blood connection.

        That's my view.

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