I’ve read almost no…

I've read almost no contemporary poetry, which is part of my anxiety in thinking about working seriously on poetry. I don't actually read a lot of poetry, although the pieces I love, I think of, again and again. Poetry like Millay's "Time does not bring relief...", for example.

I've had this weird resistance to taking my poetry seriously for a long time. Twenty years or so. I managed to find this in my blog this morning: "In 1993 and 1994, I spent a lot of time on a newsgroup, rec.arts.poems, giving away my poems for fun and pleasure and friendship. Ralph Cherubini, one of the fine poets who spent time on that group, used to write poems to me. In them, he often made me into someone finer than I thought I really was. I kept them, to remind me of the person I could try to be.

Your resistance to being perceived as a strong effective poet
perhaps some residue
from a time
perhaps a lifetime
when you felt
hampered
wounded
weakened
not what something within you said you should be
it is not up to you
the truthfulness of your heart
all you can do is foster it
impede it.
You still have a choice.
You can say "no" some days
you can say "yes" some days
I have known you to say
"yes"
beautifully..."

It actually helps a lot, oddly, posting the poems on Facebook. Some of the poems get a lot of likes, which reminds me that even if I feel like I don't know what I'm doing, something in some of these pieces works for other people. Some of the time.

I was talking about this project with a friend yesterday, and she told me very sincerely that my poetry was beautiful. And I was surprised. Surprised! But also grateful. I think her telling me that was what convinced me to actually open the chapbook file again last night, and work on it a bit more.

I wonder what Ralph's doing these days. Maybe I'll go look him up.

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