Secrecy

May 19, 2018

Secrecy flows through you,
a different kind of blood.
It’s as if you’ve eaten it
like a bad candy,
taken it into your mouth,
let it melt sweetly on your tongue,
then allowed it to slide down your throat
like the reverse of uttering,
a word dissolved
into its glottals and sibilants,
a slow intake of breath –
And now it’s in you, secrecy.
Ancient and vicious, luscious
as dark velvet.
It blooms in you,
a poppy made of ink.

Margaret Atwood

It is a self-evident truth that Romeo and Juliet could have handled their unfortunate situation differently…

Open all your senses

May 19, 2018

Here is a way to approach making poetry. Recall an experience. Let it flow into your head into your body until you know fully again what is now memory. Open all your senses: see, hear, smell, taste, touch again what you lived. Focus on one moment. Feel it completely. Do not try to understand it yet. Tell about it. Let the words come. Are they questions? Answers? Write so the reader and listeners respond with their senses, so that they let their bodies think. Do not explain: reveal. Let the image you create work for you. Ask the poem to talk, silently and aloud. People will listen and hear.

Katharyn Howd Machan
On Writing Poetry

burried

The techniques for mystifying women’s lives and belittling women’s writing that I have described work by suppressing context: writing is separated from experience, women writers are separated from their tradition and each other, public is separated from private, political from personal – all to enforce a supposed set of absolute standards. What is frightening about black art or women’s art or Chicano art – and so on – is that it calls into question the very idea of objectivity and absolute standards:

This is a good novel.

Good for what?

Good for whom?

One side of the nightmare is that a privileged group will not recognize that ‘other’ art, will not be able to judge it, that the superiority of taste and training possessed by the privileged critic and the privileged artist will suddenly vanish.

The other side of the nightmare is not what is found in the ‘other’ art will be incomprehensible, but that it will be all too familiar. That is:

Women’s lives are the buried truth about men’s lives.

The lives of people of colour are the buried truth about white lives.

The buried truth about the rich is who they take their money from and how.

The buried truth about ‘normal’ sexuality is how one kind of sexual expression has been made privileged, and what kinds of unearned virtue and terrors about identity this distinction serves.

Joanna Russ
How to Suppress Women’s Writing

primitive need

May 19, 2018

book light

I write to dream; to connect with other human beings; to record; to clarify; to visit the dead. I have a kind of primitive need to leave a mark on the world. Also, I have a need for money.

I’m almost always anxious when I’m writing. There are those great moments when you forget where you are, when you get your hands on the keys, and you don’t feel anything because you’re somewhere else. But that very rarely happens. Mostly I’m pounding my hands on the corpse’s chest. The easy times are intermittent. They can be five minutes long or five hours long, but they’re never very long. The hard times are not completely hard, but they can be pretty hard, and they can go on for weeks.

Mary Karr
Why We Write: 20 Acclaimed Authors on How and Why They Do What They Do
Edited by Meredith Maran