I was hoping to make more progress than I did last week. For the past eight years, I have spent 10 days or-so of the summer out of town--a writing retreat, an MFA program alumni conference. I cannot afford anything like that this year, so I stayed home and tried to psychologically "induce" myself into a week of intense creative effort. It did not work. I am not sure why, and perhaps my time is better spent going forward at whatever
pace I can manage than worrying about why I can no longer write five or six ambitious poems in one week. That pace may sound absurd, but I literally
plan for such times. Writing is my "third job" (after law and teaching) but it is my first love. And right now, I simply do not seem to be able to manage such intensity; not this summer, not in this place.
At 55, am I too old to work as I have in the past? Perhaps.
Some things come more naturally now--a sense of my own voice, monosyllables, finding my way more surely to the final poem. Other things--subject matter, not repeating myself, writing more deeply, more spiritually, less and less about the self---these are challenges.
I love to be in the poem--for hours if I can be--and I only caught stray moments of that feeling this past week. I do not know what to make of this.
To be a poet--writing against, outside, or even deep within the dark belly of this culture, is a lonely and foolish task. Whether it matters is something we will never know in our lifetimes.