Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Dinopoems are the tea-killer. This is a good thing.

Many a cup of tea has been ruined by writing. All too often I look up from my work to an "ah shit" moment, when I realize that my cup or pot had been steeping for a very very long time. It's cold and bitter and I have to start again.

My second attempt at tea is now brewing. But that also means my work has been very engrossing. And of course dinosaurs poems would be!

The first one I wrote last week about a child pretending to be a dinosaur, snore, isn't very good, although still awesome for its dinosaur reference, but it did get the ball rolling on a few others.
And these other two dinosaur poems are fun, exploring alternative reasons why dinosaurs went extinct. Flowers, I tell you!

I've learned about "the abominable mystery" which, according to wikipedia (my very bestest and smartest friend, and also, being on the internet, never ever wrong) was what Charles Darwin called the one problem of his theory of evolution, that being the apparently sudden appearance of relatively modern flowers in the fossil record. And I would think that the sudden appearance of flowers during the cretaceous period, which is also the period of dinosaur decline, would have driven their tiny minds insane, seeing as how a million bursts of colour suddenly appeared in an otherwise green and brown world. So that's my theory, and I think it holds up.

So the first poem of what may work out into a series, since the idea right now seems fun, is about the first flower blooming, and this event being seen by a dinosaur, and the dinosaur I guess going crazy. This poem is done, and I love it like I haven't loved a poem for some time... so it's probably pretty inaccessible... le sigh.

The second poem was inspired by a sentence I came across on wikipedia as I was researching: "The general assumption is that the function of flowers, from the start, was to involve other animals in the reproduction process." My poem, which I haven't yet decided is done or not, explores the idea that dinosaurs were maybe just too big and/or dumb to fill that role of pollinator. Its a fun piece, with many parts that I enjoy. I worry though that it may, um, falter into the sentimental. It's hard not to get sentimental about dinosaurs though!

And since I enjoy poems that mesh well together, and could work as a series or perhaps a chapbook, I think I'll continue exploring other methods of dino-death. I like to think I'm honouring the fallen beasts...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

These poems, they burn and hurt. And "dwelled" isn't a real word?

Have I mentioned that I love mail? Even a rejection letter. This is the proof that someone has read my poems, and though they have chosen not to publish any of them at this time, at least they read them. And I think they probably liked them. I like them.

There is excitement in opening an envelope addressed to myself in my own handwriting that I know had been sent out ages ago in a bigger brown envelope, nestled gently against the papery feel of poems. And though the form printed letter that begins with "We regret..." or some such variant can put a sad look on my face (I can feel that it's there, I don't normally open mail in front of a mirror. That would be loving it perhaps a bit too much. And in a weird way) it feels so special when that scrap of paper, since they never send you an entire sheet when half or less will do, has, scrawled at the bottom, a tiny note. This note is hand written, by a real live person, the ink smudged a little here and there, and with a real name, written perhaps in haste and always with the sloppiness that comes with familiarity, tucked away at the bottom. Oh, I love that person, whoever they are. They loved a poem or two. But...

And there is always that "but". I don't know how I feel about it. Of course, I can fix the "but" within the poem... but to be soooo close and yet, still unpublished!

One of my poems in particular received its second "but", proof I guess that I need to reevaluate it, and I will, and in fact have, and it's better for it. It's very exciting that more than one editor liked it enough to comment, and interesting that they had similar things to say about it.

I don't know what to do about the comment though "that [my] poems falter in places into the sentimental." Oy. I dwelled on this a lot yesterday.

I mentioned once that I love my poems to give me that punch in the face that the poems I love of others' give me. And I suppose that with the familiarity that I have with my own work, I feel the need for an especially hard hit, but for a first time reader, who hasn't read the poem and its million-plus revisions, it can seem like I'm trying too hard to evoke something. I try to step back from my work, but really nothing I've deemed worthy enough to send out has given me the cringe-face I envisioned this poor editor to have had. But I may be immune to my own sentimentality. It's like when you've been eating a lot of curry, so much so that you don't even taste the curry flavour anymore. You know it's there, but your tongue can no longer detect it. So each time you make curry, maybe as you're trying to perfect a recipe, you add more and more of the spice. To the unfortunate taster who has not taken this culinary journey with you, your curry would end up tasting pretty awful and way too hot when your original intent had been to simply tickle their taste buds with a wee bit of delightful curriness.

What a terrible and long winded analogy! I do think I'll make curry tonight though. And try harder (or less harder?) to write poems that simply give me a pinch, in the hopes that a reader gets the full punch, as opposed to the ass-whooping I've maybe been subjecting them too!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Dinosaurs: nothing more ever needs to be said.

Last week I sent out another small batch of poems, lots of it the newer stuff I've been writing. I'm happy enough with them, otherwise I'd not have mailed them away, but not as thrilled with them as I have been with other pieces. It comes and goes. I'll trudge through. Poems are happening, and the great ones can only happen if poems are happening. So, great ones will happen. Of course.

I'm not much for confessional poetry, but if I were one for baring my innermost self through poems, I'd be lamenting through rhythm and rhyme the fact that I won't be seeing them really really big big dinosaurs in person. You know the ones I'm talking about! Walking With Dinosaurs is in town in May, for less than a week, and tickets are apparently made of solid gold. And we're very very busy that week, anyways... and the bf can live without seeing them, so I guess I can too. But, at the back of my mind from now until then, and even after, will be the glorious dream of life-size dinosaur puppets stampeding through Victoria, all the way down the Pat Bay, to visit me! Hello, Stegosaurus, I baked you chocolate-chip muffins!

In my final year of university I made many a dinosaur themed sculpture as part of my Arts minor. I've never had so much fun playing with sculpture and all its elements as I did in that year. Unfortunately, like the dinosaurs, dino-art can't live forever... RIP 'Rumpy Nibbleton' and the way awesome interactive end-of-the-world-for-dinosaurs relief, of which I may not have any pictures... whoops!Check out Rumpy there, life size (um, according to Professor Moi) and completely handstitched with the most awesome free find: pastel green fluffy material. Also included is a garbage can (for structure), paper-mâché teeth, over 30lbs of stuffing, a big floppy tongue, and what can only be described as snuffalufagus eye lashes. He hung from the ceiling and his mouth opened and closed (onto art patrons no less!). It took five people to carry him from the studio to the gallery. He was my pièce de résistance.

I don't want to jinx it, but I must say that any poem about dinosaurs would automatically be great; there is simply no denying the supreme awesomatude and paramount fantastriousness of dinosaurs. So I suppose that if poems are happening, poems about dinosaurs could, and should, happen, and thus great poems simply cannot be denied. Yay, logic, always on my side!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Am I just hearing things?

When I was very young I fell asleep on a couch. Actually, I'll never know if I was asleep and dreaming or falling asleep and not dreaming. Or maybe it was that weird in-between. Anyways, as I was 'sleeping' on the couch I saw, walking along the cushion right in front of my face, a bee. I was frozen stiff, terrified. I suppose this was before that time I was stung a lot, since that sort of cured my fear of bees; getting stung isn't the worst hurt in the world. But at this time I was terrified, indeed petrified. Frozen, unable to move, I watched this bee pass my face, out of view. I was absolutely convinced it had crawled into my ear. For years I would believe any ringing in my ears was the result of said bee, trapped forever, buzzing madly. It kind of bothered me.

When I was very young, I think now that I must have been very stupid, for in the still and quiet of the night I didn't know that it was my own heartbeat I could hear. I believed that the thumping in my ears was the footsteps of a giant that I could hear. In terror I was unable to move or cry out for help, otherwise the giant might hear me and find me that much sooner; he was always coming after me. And of course the more afraid I became, the faster and louder my heart beat; the closer and closer the giant came. I think I actually scared myself to sleep those nights.

I hate when I hear the mailman come, but I've already checked for mail earlier. It would look terribly odd to check the mail twice in one day, and return empty handed on both occasions. I don't want to look like a mail-stalker, or some kind of shut-in. I don't know who's watching me, but I have to look normal.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Windows and getting yourself 'out there'.

There are only two windows in my condo. One is in the bedroom, and as we live on the ground floor and that particular window looks out onto the path to the building's back door, the blinds are always closed. The other is actually a sliding glass door off our living room. It leads to a small patio more or less enclosed by (ugly) bushes. There is some privacy, so the blinds could be opened, and I am sure very few people would peer in. But every sunny morning when I sit here at my computer typing away, the clacking of keys not quite harmonizing with the chirping of birds, the plain (ugly) beige blinds are transformed, as if burning, set afire by the sun, to a sort of glowing gold.... is it wrong how pretty I find this? That I keep the blinds closed rather then look out at an entire world transformed by sunlight, that I prefer this one small bit of magic to a greater whole?

It is April, National Poetry Month. It is also 'Child Abuse Prevention Month' and 'Alcoholism Awareness Month'. So that's something.

There are lots of things going on this month, especially online, and many of them are of course focused on writing poetry. April becomes 'Forced Inspiration Exercise Month', with many people providing daily prompts and challenging poets to write a poem a day. I suppose I could take part, but I don't have a lot of trouble finding things to write about, so there's not a ton I could take away from that.

But I do feel the need to feel more a part of a larger community of poets. And while Victoria features a weekly series of poetry readings and open mics at The Black Stilt Coffee Lounge, I've only managed to go once. I haven't been since because it took me two buses, almost three hours of total travel time, and I was only able to stay for the first half before I had to dash out to catch the last bus home.

Sidney itself has, at The Red Brick Cafe, had a monthly reading series going for a bit now, but doesn't often feature poets, and definitely doesn't draw a very diverse/young/lively crowd, which is something I miss from my university days. Le sigh.

So how about I celebrate National Poetry Month by thinking up some new exciting way of putting myself and my work out there? Some celebrate April with the Poem in Your Pocket initiative. People are encouraged to carry a poem in their pocket to be taken out and shared with others at every opportunity. But gosh, I'm shy. That won't do. Maybe if I can just slip a poem of mine into other people's pockets without them noticing....

A trip to Opus had me eyeing some blank Art Trading Cards. I've heard of these before, where artists create prints or original works the size of trading cards (2.5 inches by 3.5 inches) to be traded with other artists, or I suppose sold, but trading would be more fun. How about a Poetry Trading Card? One side would feature a poem, and the other would have a brief bio and contact info for the poet. It could also mention if/where the poem has appeared in print before, and thus become an advertising tool for publishers too (I'd stick at first with published works, no telling if lit mags would consider such a small endeavour as 'previously published'). They could be tucked into library books, left on the shelves of bookstores, on bus seats, and cafe tables!

I made a prototype Poetry Trading Card. Actually its just an index card cut down to side with everything handprinted... it's terribly lackluster. Very blah, very... amateur!

Ever get an idea that seems brilliant, and its sooo exciting and the more you think about it the better it gets... but then you over think it... and then it just seems stupid?

I got to that point. My fantastic Trading Card Idea hit the silly point. No one else seems to be doing this, who would I trade with? And the idea of hiding works in books has been done, although not with anything quite so 'take with you and share'. This is cool, and I'd join in, but... 25$? Maybe next year.

So. Give up? Nah! Broadsides are too big, trading cards too oddly shaped... but business cards? Everyone carries business cards, hands out business cards, pins them to bulletin boards, leaves them strategically placed, hell, they even trade them! So the next obstacle to leap over... can a poem fit on a business card? I'm going to keep working on this. As I type I've got another window opened to, an apparently awesome business card printer where you can get any number of images printed to one side of the card, with printed info or logo on the other. I'll experiment with this. We'll see.

Speaking of windows, did I mention my view of the dumpster from my living room sliding glass door? Maybe that's why I keep it closed ;)