Tuesday, May 29, 2007

finding self

Things that are well worth a one hour commute: poetry group. The first meeting today at Eireann's house, situated in Minneapolis. Eight of us folded up, sitting on the edge of creaky chairs, lovely in the mixed texture of an old living room. Wine glasses in cabinets, bookcases with old spines facing out, our writing notebooks shapely in our laps. It felt so good, so good to be in the company of people who roll words about in their minds like balls of glue on the tips of their fingers. So good to look across the room and see an old friend, pick up to that feeling of kinship that was a part of classroom workshops. There is a kind of bond that comes between writers who trust each other to show what is most vulnerable--material we actually want to improve. That is a scary thing. It is one thing to splay ourselves about in a blog, which everyone knows is just a jotting place, a public diary, typos and all, imperfect, but to show someone a poem you want to see in a second life: this is a frightening thing indeed.

Of course, it all went so very well. Strangely, at the end of the night, one of Eireann's former students, Ian, asked, if I knew a Chelsea (yes) and my mother's name (yes), and he was one of her students, saying he wasn't so well behaved in that last year of French (and yes, she says you were not always the best, but you did write a charming song about Le Petit Prince which may have redeemed you). Small world, four and a half hours from our shared high school, something like six or seven years apart, and even now, an hour's drive from her house to my own. Another I recognized, but I can't quite place him--a former class we took together? A past life perhaps.

I had also forgotten what it was like to be up on that editing block, to be silent as your words are mulled over, are discussed and critiqued, criticized and defended; your own opinion would only get in the way. My poem survived with some excellent times and may find its way into revision. which is so good. Often I cannot do this thing others are doing: find what to keep, what to leave out. Of course, the stanza they suggested cutting was one I cringed at while reading (too easy to tell it like that, so cliche), so I suppose that would be one big sign.

I am in charge of next week's questions to pose for the group's discussion. It is so early on that this might not be weak to do, but I am wondering: What kinds of things appeal to each reader in poetry? How do we deem it "good" or "bad"? And what are all these categories about anyway? If we were to poems into boxes, how do we do that? This is too much and too broad, and I have a week, but to you, dear readers of this blog, what questions would you ask if you had the attention of seven other very poetic and smart individuals? How would you spend a rainy Tuesday evening with chocolate chip cake and glasses of cool water in your hands and poetry in your heart?

This group could not have started at a better time. I have been on this exploration of self kick lately, and have enthusiastically returned to the page. But the past few weeks have found me sluggish, hating my words, feeling as if there is no hope whatsoever of going beyond the rubbish that I jot between exhausting trips to This High School. I was pushing through, continuing miserably with morning pages, still writing here, dutifully, thinking, "I can get through this poor writing funk" and not actually believing it. But tonight, in the quiet of N Street, with the tock of her mantle clock, I remembered what it was to string words together like glass beads, each ticking against the next, making a quiet song, a bridal necklace that somehow works, brings it all together.

(I have a long way to go. But I'm happy on this journey and glad for the company I keep!)

(PS: And Karen, I only wish you were living here in the Twin Cities. We would have loved you there.)

So many other big things have happened today and recently. I shall make a list and go through:

- I have a necklace for my wedding, a gift from K's mother. My eyes were all teary as he pulled back the folder, revealing a string of pearls, something I have always wanted, always admired. This, along with my wedding dress, will be my cherished something new, my heirlooms to tell stories about. So many blessings for this wedding day. It hasn't even happened and it is already good.

- Speaking of blessings, this man is incredible. He is creating our letterpress invitations and I just got the proofs this weekend. I wanted to kiss the filmy computer screen! They are gorgeous. I always wanted to frame my invitation, just as a keepsake, though I don't think most invitations are really worthy of framed art. These will be, and I'm not just saying that because they are for my own wedding. Check out his shop, buy his beautiful cards. Support fabulous local artists (in my community and yours).

- I went to our local bookstore (The Best of Times) to pick up some of the books for this writing group and to purchase a hostess gift for Eireann. Strangely, the bookseller turned back to the counter and said, "I have something for you..." and brought out a gift card with a note saying I would be in later this week to pick it up. Someone purchased a $100 gift certificate to this store, I assume over the phone. Mystery person: thank you! Of course, I have not spent it yet, in case this was a mistake. Maybe it was another one of me in town, though there are not many people in this town at all, let alone anyone else with my last name.

- Our marriage license came in the mail. My name, now six letters longer, with an extra space. I will have three names: the first, a gift from my parents; the second, my great-grandmother's name and a nice rhythmic companion to my first; the third, my family name, my Irish heritage; the soon-new last name, K's name, our family.

- Last meeting with Kim, for now, and a discussion on repairing relationships, finding ways to bring calm into turmoil, and how we can help each other become better people.

And on a parting note:

I am reading a blog that has an interest in enegrams. I thought I would see what I turned out to be out of curiosity, and I think these are a bit conflicting, though seem to suit me OK. I often feel conflicted, so that makes sense! You can take the test yourself here.

A little bit of two, a little bit of four:

Type Two
The Helper

The caring, interpersonal type. Twos are empathetic, sincere, and warm-hearted. They are friendly, generous, and self-sacrificing, but can also be sentimental, flattering, and people-pleasing. They are well-meaning and driven to be close to others, but can slip into doing things for others in order to be needed. They typically have problems with possessiveness and with acknowledging their own needs. At their Best: unselfish and altruistic, they have unconditional love for others.

Type Four
The Individualist

The introspective, romantic type. Fours are self-aware, sensitive, and reserved. They are emotionally honest, creative, and personal, but can also be moody and self-conscious. Withholding themselves from others due to feeling vulnerable and defective, they can also feel disdainful and exempt from ordinary ways of living. They typically have problems with melancholy, self-indulgence, and self-pity. At their Best: inspired and highly creative, they are able to renew themselves and transform their experiences.


Anonymous said...

Interesting. : ) I got results across a wide range, but mostly for type 9.


Angie said...

I came out with the same high number in categories 1, 3, and 7.

Reformer, Achiever, Enthusiast

Ruby said...

I was scattered pretty evenly across the board with my highest scores in 6 & 7.

Thanks for your comment. I'm going to try it.

Liz said...

I was in a poetry writing group for awhile, when I lived in Chicago. It was great! So inspiring, and so fun. I haven't been able to get a writing group started here in Sweden, for several reasons. ...I envy you your group :)

Liz said...

Hmmm...I don't know why my Blogger display name is showing as "Liz"...it should be "Lizardek". Anyway, that was me.

eireann said...

hi there,

it was good. i'm warmed by what you have to say. playing host is not an easy thing for me.

and thank you for the book--a real thank-you to follow--it's lovely. and the card too.

see you soon.

Sam said...

Oh! Two people gave us framed wedding invitations as gifts - and I love them. I felt exactly as you do, over ours - just pure delight - and they were perfectly perfect, exactly what I wanted. :) You must share your wedding date with us - that way I can send up special wedding prayers for you!