Friday, April 26, 2013

head over feet

I'm making little piles of mini-chapbooks for a writer symposium next weekend. They are a wonderful creation--when unfolded completely the book is a single sheet of 8x11 paper. All poems Garamond, 10pt font. Each one fits approximately 5 to 8 poems. Shit, it's better than a business card. A set of 3, 20 copies of each set.

I learned this trick in the fall of 2000 when the Dayton Slam team returned from nationals in Providence. It was a quick and easy way to trade poems with lots of people in one go of it, without the pressure of having to purchase a full collection. A tester perfume. A method of communication and staying in touch. Legitimate merchandise to offer in between full collections published. This practice was a big hit at nationals that year. Back in Dayton we adopted the practice and I remember a group of us taking turns formatting on Bill's computer. PageMaker made it easy--you could flip the direction of text and layout the page perfectly. Each one of us had our own idea and flair and need--I still remember that day, the concentration on our faces as we aligned stanzas and typed our thank you's and dedications. I remember the pile that grew as we folded them.

The making of. The speaking of. These are my priorities. It is a strange and wonderful time...stretches of writing that feel almost feverish, the way they are immediate and persistent. Knocking around until I release it. These are my favorite moments...when even the drive to create barely waits for me. I have to grab its neck and hold on.

It is lovely and it is frustrating. I want to put another book out. Or two books simultaneously. Dare I say three? Do I work on three and only put one out, so that at least the urge is satisfied? What is my connective tissue? Why does my latest draft already feel so incredibly archaic?

And dilemma is dilemma but how remarkable: to be a month shy of 32 and head over feet in love with writing. For all of these years and still smitten. The strangest love. A current, an element, the gorgeous criminal of my heart. If my most consuming worry is writing-related, then I am fortunate. I want to be folding tiny chapbooks all of the time. Most nights I'd rather be somewhere melting in a chair while listening to a new poet, getting inspired, having conversations, working hard to bring the ideas to life. I realize I want this frustration more than anything. I've been in love since the day we met...when crayon first made sense in my fist. When I wrote my first story on a typewriter. When I paced the living room shaking as I prepared to attend my first open mic ever. When I traveled for it, read it to a lover, wrote it for a friend. I look back on all of the experience and feel overwhelming pride in my chest. Writing has always been necessary, and I'm proud that I never turned from that(ha--not that I really have a choice when it comes to shunning something so dismissing all the water in my body). All this to say the fight is a good one.

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