You’ll notice that none of the reading material I have included above is poetry. Borges, I suppose, is closest; his short stories are pretty much their own entity. They are certainly incredibly fecund as material. Harold Bloom once wrote that Borges “wounds deeply, but always in the same way.” I think I agree with that, but his “trick” is one heck of a trick. I can’t read more than a couple stories at a time without having a walk around to think. My notes have been significant.
In conversations with other students in the Creative Writing – Poetry MFA program, I’ve found that a lot of people are in a bit of a burnout stage regarding reading poetry, though everyone seems to be writing pretty well. I have found myself the same way. I have been writing a lot of notes towards poems and turning them into poems, but it’s almost a journaling process at the moment. I find when I try to work on a project, I get more stuck. It seems too heavy. I’ve written about all this before.
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I’ve been re-watching Mad Men lately because I really enjoy the show and what it’s about. Perhaps it’s because artists tend to be pretty introspective, but I find myself considering where I am in life, where I want to go, and if I’m doing the right things to get there. This third one is especially challenging if you own a business (like Don in the show) or are a writer. Any time you spend doing something other than writing could be used for writing and making it towards that first big book. Managing this aspect of existence is a continuous challenge.
It’s something I discussed with David Trinidad at a recent Doll House Reading. He said that when he was my age and at my stage of his poetic career, he was “bouncing off the walls” when it came to writing and worrying about writing. Now if he does a few good hours a day, he’s happy. Hemingway once famously stated he was happy with 500 good words in a day.
The point isn’t that I should be at that point. The point is that all of this is OK, and the main thing to keep in mind is doing your best to move forward, whatever that is. We spiral upwards in life more than we climb any ladder or incline. That sounds like something Emerson might say. I think I’ll get back to him.