It’s been a long time since anyone told me what to do in a fall-in-line school-sense. Referring to tasks for education: write an essay on, create a theme poem, and that horror of horrors – edit.
Edit wasn’t well loved or even liked in my elementary, high or college schooling. (Or now, honestly.)
I loved to write and was under the impression that writing loved me. Otherwise, how could it have been so easy? Words came to me and I dispensed them exactly as channeled through my psyche.
Any type of art, once emerged and recorded, immerged to the deep. Catalystic inspiration filed, it was perfect as it was. Whatever the medium, it came out of me divined and that’s how it would stay. I learned the phrase ‘Artistic License,’ and adopted it, fully.
Young ego. I didn’t understand the art of finessing. Observing, tweaking, seeing it from another point of view – there just wasn’t room in my head. I was always on to the next creative.
April was National Poetry Month. University of Michigan LSA Institute for Humanities popped up with a program and challenge called Poetry Blast. 22 days of noon-time poetry reading by and daily prompts.
Prompts are demands. Uncomfortable commands to self- challenge. When it is no longer about urgent feelings or excited insight, it’s a struggle to combat insincerity with what may not be talent, after all.
So, 22 chances. 22 struggles. Limited outcomes, due to topic, timing. Some just straight-up, staring blanks of ‘I don’t get it.’
My total participation attempts yielded 6 submissions. Three of which, I think, are ridiculously weak, obviously forced. To my credit, I analyzed the situation and accepted the call-to summons as an opportunity. An uncomfortable opportunity to struggle, but that was the point of trying.
Interestingly, I have found my ‘natural’ cadence to be obvious and boring. Admittedly, at times, outright contrived and imitatingly trite. I’ve been working tweaks. One line in particular irked me as being too children’s picture book rhymey. Another, I fear for its honesty.
Some fall into failure, considering way-off prompt tangled-up tangents of skipping from topic to … an anomalytic abyss of deep click diving, one thing leads to another, but doesn’t fulfill the requirement.
In the same way that dusting a 15-year-old multiply-moved, semi-busted lampshade interrupts cleaning mode in favor of shopping for a new one and you end up with shoes.
Quote for the Week:
Background & Links:
Take a few minutes to listen to a poem! April is National Poetry Month, the largest literary celebration in the world. This year, the Institute for the Humanities is joining the tens of millions of readers, students, teachers, librarians, booksellers, publishers, families, and, of course, poets, in marking poetry’s important place in our lives. Every weekday at noon in April, our Youtube channel will feature a U-M faculty member reading one of their poems. See below for today’s featured poet.
Plaid lines to follow! Success was on the horizon.
Seriously. How hard could it be to cut a straight line when there are lines to follow?
Kinda hard if you’re working with a maybe-a-little dull rotary push blade, a slippery plastic ruler, still stubbornly assuming an awkward couch-to-coffee-table posture.
I didn’t count the passes. I just know I, multiply, veered off the rule, lost the grip, over-corrected and then over-corrected the over-corrections.
After a few thinner, shorter, not card worthy swipes, I tried another roll-over aiming to trim with fabric scissor. Ancient, pre-Jeff, inherited, fabric scissors. When I thought about it, I calculated they were nearing or at 50 years old, holding just a smidgen of rust.
Correctable, in my view. A kitchen trip to grab the knife sharpener and hone away, also netted me an apple. It was a particularly good batch of market apples. I needed a break, so I savored, while staring at the rotten fruits of my labor.
That’s when I decided. Deviously counting the odds, here’s how I added it all up. The lop-sides and veers would herald obvious hand-made. By default, this would make them endearingly rustic. At least that’s what the perfectionist in me planned to say if anyone had a word about it.
Creative minds envision orderly procession, despite the disorganization of supplies and the tendency to rationalize with the phrase, “For now…”
Who wants to put away paint tubes by color when another fabulous idea has surfaced, which, if isn’t documented this very minute might float away, forever.
For now, I’ll leave it there. For now, I’ll remember where it is when I need it. For now, I’m just going to take a 10 minute (ahem 1.2 hour) break.
60 minutes later, the fabric finagling ended satisfactorily.
Since the Singer was still set up, I figured I’d give it a try for straight-cutting paper layers.
I was intermittently trying to find some important paperwork last week.
I didn’t find what I needed, so I set about searching seriously on Friday night.
Significant hours later, I still didn’t find what I needed.
I stubbornly continued my quest, walking around, room-to-room, Saturday morning and most of the afternoon.
When it became annoyingly apparent, I wasn’t going to locate what I was looking for, I started second-guessing if I ever had it in my possession to begin with.
Then, I had one more vivid, yet ultimately incorrect, vision of laying it on a home-office bookshelf ledge. Overflowing stacks house my rotating collection of haphazard gifted, lent, and free books. Some which I knew I’d read and needed to return or give away.
With last-ditch lackluster expectancy, I deliberately darted down another path of “perhaps” and “maybe, it’s…”
I’m a big sweep organizer. I gather everything and start over. The logical place to begin was to empty the book shelves down to the bones, hoping to find that illusive article between or under each mini pile.
I didn’t find what I needed.
Moving mildly dusty standing piles of books revealed those rarely observed support rungs at the back of the structure, oh, so, rarely dusted. Analytically, each title was carefully considered for retain or release.
Assignments concluded, I embarked on the semi-painful process of logically sorting everything back. Grouped by category/topic, but not alphabetically. I’d had enough of the hunt and impatiently wanted to just be done with it.
Favorably, my majestically restored library offered celebratory new-found room for future collecting. As long as the universe was acknowledging empty space, my growling stomach reminded me there was belly-room for my long-forgotten lunch, too.
Just a few steps into the building, I happened to glance up.
The peculiar idiom, “stopping dead in your tracks,” came to life.
As I scanned the wrap-around floating shelves above the lobby, I barked out a laugh.
My mother was still moving toward the meeting room so I grabbed her arm.
“Oh, my God, Mom!” I croaked. “Look!”
What I thought was amusing, my mother thought was appalling.
It was October. Either, the 4th or 5th. Michigan’s got quite a thing for Halloween.
Tightly packed above my head were skeletons, ghosts and some extra-large Styrofoam tombstones emblazoned with “R.I.P.”
I stood there a few moments longer smiling and crying, and then scooted down the left hall to save the office manager from my mother’s indignation. “You should have taken that down!” she announced.
“It’s fine,” I told her over Mom’s shoulder. “I think it’s kinda funny, myself.”
The room was pretty full. I think my first choice of seat was the fireplace ledge, but that was vetoed by just about everybody. Someone came up with a folding chair.
Who was there? The neighbor couple from across the street, Jeff’s father, my mother, my mother’s husband, Jeff’s family and friends, and surprisingly two clergy.
Another unimagined oh-no moment. Jeff’s father was Lutheran. Jeff and I were Methodist. I expected our Methodist pastor would officiate since we were Methodist. Jeff’s father craved the comfort of his own Lutheran traditions. At some point, before gathering with the group, this had been discussed and the two Reverends had agreed to work together.
The result was Jeff had double Reverends. Odd, but not.
Following his larger-than-life life momentum, going big and large into the afterlife seemed appropriate.