Between teaching, writing, and running a poetry press, I haven’t posted in a long time. Luckily, no one was holding her breath. So much has happened, mostly to the world (not me, particularly). But last spring as I drove to Texas, destination the annual AWP conference and Bookfair, little did I know it was to be my last trip for quite a while. Covid-19 has been running most of my life (and yours, I assume) since then.
With all this time, it’s a wonder that so few are reporting tremendous progress with their writing. Anxiety, as we could have foreseen, is the anti-creativity. We try–but we fiddle, spiral, stumble, fizzle. I look at the two collections that I was sending out in the 2000-teens and feel only a mild meh. The themes feel tired, the language pleasant enough but not capable of fighting off a deadly virus or evicting a toxic president. The stakes have shifted under my feet, and my focus has therefore been much more on helping my students find the fire and patience they need right now and on bringing into print the spectacular books of others.
Check out Brad Richard’s Paradise Kingdom, Lisa Lewis’s Taxonomy of the Missing, Annie Kim’s Eros, Unbroken, or Kathleen Winter’s Transformer, just to mention a few. In In Ayaz Pirani’s Happy You Are Here you can experience a mind shaped by three (or more?!) cultures, or in JoAnne McFarland’s daring Identifying the Body explore the limits of your courage, while in Nadia Colburn’s The High Shelf you can join the struggle of trying to create a profound meditation in the middle of this mess that is our current world.
The poems of Roy Guzman, Layli Longsoldier, Leah Umansky, Joseph O. Legaspi, Frannie Lindsay, Patricia Smith, Ross Gay, Jane Hirshfield, and so many more are carrying me through this time as well. I’m not worried about my silence because I’m working hard. I hope you have been too.