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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

What Next?

1) Despite having piles of books everywhere, many as-yet-unread, I'm always wondering what to read next, and looking around for more books. If you are like me, you'll be glad for Ron Slate's semi-annual poetry feature, in which 14 poets recommend books of other poets. You can find a poet you admire (say Idra Novey, Anna Journey, or Shane McRae) and see whose work they selected, maybe someone unknown to you (which is always exciting). Or you might be alerted to the fact that an already admired poet (say, Kate Greenstreet or Carl Phillips) has a new book out you hadn't heard about yet. In either case, it's worth a quick look at these recommendations.

2) Thanks to an old friend from my writing group in Florida (eons ago), Mary Bast, I've recently come to know about the work in erasure supported by the Silver Birch Press. So far they've begun an anthology called Silver Birch Press NOIR Erasure Poetry Anthology (sorry, submissions already closed) and are currently collecting poems for a Valentine's Day anthology (submissions still open), with one of Mary's already featured here. Lots of erasure poems can be found on the Silver Birch Press blog, so for those of you interested in the form, it's a good resource.

 3) Recently I've been working on some poems with an emotionally difficult subject matter. However, they are coming quickly, if painfully, which signals to me that it is the time to deal with this subject matter. Interestingly, the other day I was stuck on two of the poems, needed a title for one, and one last phrase for the other. What to do next? I went to bed thinking, I need to look at Edward Hirsch's work. I have no idea why I thought this (I haven't read any Hirsch in a few years) but I felt compelled. So the next morning I pulled down my Hirsch books, opened one which had a bookmark in it and read the bookmarked poem, flipped through and read a few more. And then I had both the title of the one poem and the missing bit of the other. The words I needed weren't in the Hirsch book, but they were triggered by it. Probably reading many different things would have triggered the words for me, but somehow my unconscious mind knew Hirsch would do it. And so, listen to your unconscious mind, that old refrain. (I'm uncomfortable writing about this, because I think of myself as a rational person, not whoo-whoo at all, but see, I'm arguing that accessing the unconscious is a rational thing to do, though it feels kind of whoo-whoo.)

Speaking of which, I've had the urge recently to do something about the composer Aaron Copland. I don't know why, but he's been heavily on my mind, and somehow I feel resistant. I don't know that much about him, so I looked at some biographical material online and I listened to Appalachian Suite (on YouTube--amazing, you can just want to listen to something and there it is). Appalachian Suite was my introduction to Copland, in music class in the seventh grade, and even then I felt drawn to and resistant to Copland. My son's music festival was last week, and they performed Holst's Jupiter. My son was humming it around that house, and that got me to humming it, and I actually insisted to my son that it was Copland, and he insisted it wasn't, and we looked it up and of course it wasn't. But don't you think Jupiter has that Copland sound? Anyway, must overcome my resistance and figure out why Copland is haunting me these days.

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