Friday, February 24, 2012

On (Not) Writing

I am going to write! White space. Cursor blinking. Teach. Facebook. Eat. Play Angry Birds. Sleep. Grad seminar. I need to make words! Play Words with Friends. Grad seminar. Sleep (maybe). I miss writing! Guilt. Repeat.
Somehow, I was lucky enough to study Slam and Spoken Word Poetry this quarter with Bruce Beasley, an amazing writer and fantastic professor. In my many years of schooling, I have had several wild and memorable classes, but this one is placed so very near the top. Last Friday, poet Anis Mojgani visited our classroom. Mojgani is kind of a big deal: National Poetry Slam Individual Champion for 2005 and 2006, nominations for a National Book Award and a Pushcart Prize, amongst others. During the two hour class, Mojgani talked to us about the life of a full-time poet and the feel of the poetry slam. What he read was lush. His performance vivid. So many of his poems made my eyes water. He asked us what our experience was with writing and performing and I shared that performing terrifies me. That during our first class slam, my body felt that it was going to collapse and I will probably never do it again after this class ends.

It felt strange and lovely to talk to someone our class had been studying, but his arrival was so timely. What he spent a great deal of time on was talking about process. He would love to and tries to write every day if it's at all possible, but going on the road as he does for almost 4-6 months out of the year breaks the consistency that he needs and he's not good with interruptions. He will sit at a coffee shop with a computer in an attempt to "work his way in" to the act of writing. Much of this work consists of a blank screen and lots of time on Facebook (Note: Anis Mojgani and I have the same writing process. YES!). He shared an anecdote that ended with the sentiment that the day will come when you have to write, either because of a deadline or some other obligation, and you will just need to write, regardless if you feel it or not. Sometimes inspiration comes in a dark movie theatre and by the time you find a pen, the moment is gone. He related that the days are rare when inspiration sticks around long enough or perfectly enough to where you can say "Ah! Look at this thing that I've observed! I will mold this later into a poem!"

If Anis Mojgani has those days too, I don't feel so bad anymore. I haven't slept much the last few days. I'm behind in my grading. I'm graduating next quarter. I often don't remember to eat. I have been neglecting my family and friends. I have a collection to work on and I haven't been writing much, if at all.


My sister just played "BORE" on Words with Friends for 14 points. My tiles: HQENVNT. I will work my way in one letter at a time.

1 comment:

  1. Priorities. Procrastination; desires. “Sleep (maybe).” Priorities. I loved Smith‘s blog. I’m always curious to hear more about different processes and full-time poet lifestyles. Poet Wallace Stevens kept his job as a lawyer even after he gained a small fortune. Why?! He had earned enough money to live well for the rest of his life. He liked the left-brain work too, I suppose—so then, later he could release himself into an imagination adventure after work? And about being scared after reading the first poetry slam, isn’t our poetry suppose to scare us? I know mine scares my parents, that’s for sure. But I heard that if it doesn’t scare a poet to read it aloud to an audience then it’s probably not a very good poem. “Sometimes inspiration comes in a dark movie theatre and by the time you find a pen, the moment is gone,” so true, the muse has no patience, it’s a squeaky wheel, and the message or revision can be lost forever if put off. Lately, I’ve been writing all my poems on a treadmill. That way I lose weight while experiencing natural endorphins. I kill two birds with one stone; that way, if my poem ends up being terrible, hey, at least I lost weight in the process.