Sunday, December 12, 2010

I AM MYSELF BUT NO ONE KNOWS

I am determined to post something here, tonight, and hopefully sometime soon afterward, before December is over. November (and December, really) have been a rough couple of months. I don't want to sound pathetic, but I sort of am: my father died four weeks ago, and since then I've been flying between Washington and Colorado, or playing catch up with my classes as the semester winds down. I complain, knowing full well that my two sisters back home are bearing the burden of settling Dad's affairs.

I could already say so much about losing my father, but the words start to bob up and down on the page (and in my head), a sloshy muck of doubt, of misunderstanding, whenever I try to tackle my emotions in writing. If anything, this is one of those life experiences that has pushed my poetry writing even further away from myself, in a way I'm not sure I like. I'm swimming further and further away from that tendency to "deal with" my own emotions in my poems. Someone else experiencing grief in my poem? Fine. War? Mental illness? Loss? Sure, anyone's but mine. Granted, poems aren't meant to "deal with" the poet's feelings. However, I've seen so many students lately who do it unabashedly, who struggle and fail and succeed and crave putting themselves on the chopping block that is a poem. It's brave. In the end, there are so many female poets out there that do it so well, so honestly; maybe I'm okay with standing back in awe for now.

For what it's worth, I don't feel as if I'm hiding from my emotions in "real life". But in writing? You bet I'm hiding. It's more fun.

A few days ago, I sent out a text message to a couple different writers saying that I was going to go sit in a cafe and write for a while, and I'd love it if they joined me. It turned into a group of four creative writers, Rebekah Harden, Tim Christian, Michael Ferguson and myself, sitting for close to three hours in Old Colorado City with our pens and paper and laptops. I mentioned something to Tim about how so many people write themselves into their poetry hoping no one notices the lack of "leaping", hoping they won't have to put themselves in a completely new, scary, bizarre, perhaps unhealthy, surreal, funky, experimental-type pair of shoes. Tim said I should be myself in a poem, only with a mustache so no one would know it was me.

So I wrote this poem. And I'm in it, with a mustache, but these aren't really my parents. And I don't know how to iron pants.

Night, all! And here's to a peaceful Advent.

(poem temporarily hidden!)

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4 comments:

The Caffeinated Mommy said...

i heart picturing you with a mustache. and i heart this poem. yay you!

Jen said...

Abby, this is just lovely. My friend Gloria recently coined the term "heartal area," and that's where this gets me. Beneath the surface of a furry disguise (held up like a prize trout--awesome!), so much that's true runs through these words you've written--so much about parents and children, so much about the strange ache of feeling one step removed from one's own heart and self. Thank you for this.

Katherine van Schoonhoven said...

I am so sorry to hear about your father. Big hugs from me. (P.S. There are products for any unwanted facial hair!!)

Sharon Cumberland said...

Speaking as a poet who started writing because of a death in the family (my five-year-old nephew, Andrew) I don't agree that "poems aren't meant to 'deal with' the poet's feelings." For me, poetry was the only way I could deal with my feelings--I only became a public poet later, after I'd dealt with my private loss. But, interestingly, when I was recently given the opportunity to have my poems set to music by a group of young composers at the Yakima Seasons Music Festival, the poems they gravitated towards and set were the "Andrew" poems--the ones so full of feeling and loss that the were really compelling to these composers. So I vote for poetry as therapy--and applaud Abby for pouring her emotions into her writing