Thursday, July 11, 2013

Spinning Wheels

Sleep Journal #5 or whatever. (Actually, 6)
I don’t know how much sleep I got last night. But woke up rather refreshed at 5:30 AM. Cat jumped on me at 4AM but shooshed him off and went back to sleep, 24 Fitness be damned.
Last night Riley and I read for an hour, finished the chapter “The Council of Elrond” finally. It’s taken us 3 or 4 nights of reading to get through that chapter, which has stretched into maybe 2 weeks with the July 4th camping and break, firework disturbances, long days. Hard to find time to read at night when its all playing in the street until 9 o’clock. And the fact that this chapter is so dense with Elvish words, names, history, backstories, songs. It is probably the richest Tolkien chapter I have ever read.
So that kept us up until about 10:30. It’s been about 10 pages an hour getting through that chapter. So now they’ve decided … or rather Frodo has willingly volunteered … he is going to Fire Mountain – with, of course, the aid of Sam. But it had to get to that, had to have all the backstory, the history, the importance of it all, show the different struggles from the many varied points of view, and show how nobody else could take on this challenge. And it could not be a command given from someone else. The desire to do this thing, to unmake the ring, had to come from the one who would do this. Had to come from the willing ring-bearer.
It could not come from Bilbo Baggins; he was far too affected by the ring, and by desire for the ring, to continue. It could not come from the elves for they were too wise knowing not to tempt themselves with such power. It could not come from the Dwarves for fear of unending war. No, the last leg of this journey had to come from somebody simple, but loveable. It had to come from a hobbit, it had to come from Frodo.
I got my first Poem of the Day from the Poetry Foundation this morning. I signed up for their newsletter yesterday. It’s a nice 3-liner by Trumbull Stickney called, “I Hear a River thro’ the Valley Wander.” This is something I think I will really grow to enjoy – a daily poem in my in-box.
Today is Free Slurpee Day at 7/11 – July 11th … my kids will love that, I have to call my mom and see if she will take them to get their free Slurpee’s.
I have been working on my found poems, and there is so much good material out there – so many people have been dying in tragic accidents. But I cannot find something that is both brief enough and fitting to the victims’ memories. I am saddened by the Lac Megantic train derailment carrying crude oil. I am still overwhelmed by the building collapse in Bangladesh that killed more than 1,100 low-wage workers from the garment industry. I am speechless about the 777 explosion at SFO from Korea. I am overwhelmed by the 19 firefighters who lost their lives protecting millionaires’ homes in Arizona. And that tank in Washington State leaking radiated material at Hanford is just too much to take in right now.
And yet I do not want my work to be sensationalist. I am not trying to write something attention-grabbing just to glorify it for the headlines. My intention, as I explore found-poetry, is to look for the Truth that Hemmingway writes about. And to show it in the extraordinary.
I was first drawn to emails from my IT department – they are so confident in what the problem is and how to fix it. Something like, there is a virus in your system – we will shut down your productivity for the next 2 hours while we clean your system … rebooting often provides the best solution. That kind of stuff. It writes itself. The prose was so mundane, so cut and dry, get to the point, no time for extraneous explanations, that they had to become poems. And these little pieces were meant for Twitter. Because to me that is Twitters’ best quality – that it forces a writer to complete his or her thoughts in 140 characters or less.
Talk about a crash course in editing. Sometimes we are forced to remove the conjunction of a sentence, because who needs to know that the car has stopped – when you are so pressed for space. It becomes, car is stopped. It’s not going anywhere. The reader understands. It becomes almost universal. Car won’t start. Why? Battery problem? No gas? Engine failure? Does not matter. All that matters, as a traveler and as a writer, is – what are you going to do next? Walk. Hitch-hike. Ride a bike. Skateboard. Get to that destination.
And then once I had exhausted my IT emails I went toward the universal truths that the Chinese masters wrote about – in haiku. (Gosh, I am re-reading this and I just sounds so hokey.) I look toward nature for expression. And as summer begins, there were quite a few gardening pieces I could look toward. And then as gardening detours to nuclear sludge leaking in Eastern Washington my scope has once again changed.
And also, I am following other writers. I am following Kathy Uyen Nguyen and learning about the tanka, or 5-line poem. Another Chinese form I think. And I am following Ai Weiwei. And I am watching his documentary on the Netflix and learning about art as a protest. And learning that even the act of creating art can be considered a protest in some countries. And that this thing, Twitter, it becomes a great tool for people to express themselves and expose corruption and injustice in places like China, Turkey, Egypt, Washington D.C. And even that act of writing a poem can be construed as a protest against the status quo.
And I am following Collin Kelley and learning about indi-publishing and where to submit my work. And I am following Kelli Russell Agodon and learning about all the ways to self-publish and blog, and to utilize social media to express myself and gain an audience.
And I am following Glen Still and reading and listening to a lot of the great work he has been producing. And I am inspired to do more soundscape recordings and drone and experimental noise and publish them on SoundCloud.
And I am finding great sites and institutions even, like the Poetry Foundation, and the Poetry Society, and the Griffin Poetry Prize, and other places too that encourage and promote poetry and art and thinking and discourse and debate. It’s really quite refreshing here on Twitter. Almost worth those fees I pay to AT&T to keep my smartphone running.
Must get to bed early tonight – gotta get to Derrick’s 5:30AM spin class for sure tomorrow.

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