Reading Frank: Sonnets by Diane Seuss

Reading Frank: Sonnets by Diane Seuss, I recall my life in Athens, Georgia in the early 80s and the punk rock/new wave scene there.

Seuss’s poem, [I can’t say I loved punk when punk was contagious], brought me back to the times my friends and I drove to New York for a weekend to hear our boyfriends open for bigger bands at CBGB, the Mudd Club, and the Peppermint Lounge.

[I can’t say I loved punk when punk was contagious]

Unlike Seuss, I was more of a voyeur of the punk scene, a curious suburban college girl who wanted to graduate from university and study in Spain. For a while, I got sidetracked by punk’s promise of anarchy and rebellious art making, but I never had the need to “escape from punk’s thesis.” That was a forgone conclusion with my conservative, Catholic father hovering in the background of my psyche.

Seuss, raised by a single mother, was the real deal.

The 80’s in Athens at UGA was steeped in systemic misogyny that I bumped up against in my creative life, although at the time, I thought this bumping up was due to my own failures as a writer and human being.

I tried to get into Coleman Barks’s creative writing poetry class, but when I approached him at his office he practically shut the door in my face.

Instead, I tagged along with the boys in the band, read their chapbooks, gathered at their art openings, and attended theater presentations at the Rat and Duck, named for the rats running along the ceiling above and having to duck from falling plaster.

We slam danced and pogoed at the 40 Watt Club, went to parties on Barber Street, and picked through steamy piles of musty clothes dumped in the back of the thrift store.

We had a lot of fun in the early 80’s, but I was an outsider on the periphery of cool, while many of the *boys* were hipper than thou, making pronouncements about art and music as though they were the arbiters of all taste.

I appreciate Diane Seuss’s critique of the New York punk scene, especially her lines:

the rest was the same old white boy song

and dance, unaware of its misogyny and convinced its dangers

were innovational … .

Eight-week Writing Goals and Keeping Score

It’s the first day of September and back-to-school season. Even though I retired from teaching, I’m filled with that back-to-school determination to make a fresh start with my writing practice and to take my art making more seriously.

It’s also Virgo season, a time for ordering my little universe of precarious stacks of books heaped all over my writing/yoga/study/art room.

On her blog Write More, Be Less Careful, poet and writing professor Nancy Reddy is starting an eight-week program (free!) to help writers like me accomplish and produce more.

Our task for this week is to set quantifiable and qualifiable goals.

Here are mine:

  • Write for twenty minutes a day every day in the mornings, BEFORE I do the NYT Spelling Bee because I’m too obsessive to stop before I reach *genius* level, which can take over an hour unless I cheat, which I sometimes do.
  • Read poetry and poetry-related articles every day, rather than newspapers and magazines. As William Carlos Williams says in his poem “Asphodel, that greeny flower,”

It is difficult

to get the news from poems

yet men die miserably every day

for lack

of what is found there.

  • Commit to writing one blog post a week. This practice will keep me accountable, even if no one else reads what I write, and since I truly enjoy writing, it’s not a chore but rather a delight.
Doodle of Red with diary entry about gardening without gloves and tearing blisters.

First Tarot Reading

I received the Oceanic Tarot by Jayne Wallace as a Christmas present from one of my sons. It’s a beautiful deck that appeals to my love of water and swimming, and it provides simple, positive explanations for each of the cards. This morning I did my first reading with it.

In fact, it was the first reading I’ve ever done. Even though the tarot has always fascinated me, I’ve only used individual cards as writing prompts, and I’ve never taken the time to learn the symbolism or history behind them.

My interpretation of this three-card reading, which pertains to past, present, and future, is the following:

I need to let go of the guilt I feel about taking a semester off from teaching English. Devoting time to healing from depression, regaining my energy, spending time with family and friends, and completing my current poetry project are more than worthy endeavors–following this path is lifesaving, at least for now.

Time for reflecting on my relationship with my father and also with all the people I met on the Camino will help me finish the poems I’ve been writing for the last three and a half years.

Time for practicing yoga, reading about Ayurveda, balancing my doshas.

Time for writing in community with fellow poets online–

Thank you to Dave Bonta and Kelli Agodon for continuous motivation and opportunities for building online friendships.

What I Need Is More Yoga

Tree in tree pose

Tree in tree pose

When I woke up yesterday morning the light in the room was still dim. The closed door, stained dark walnut, looked like an open portal, a deep black tunnel.

At the end of yoga class yesterday afternoon, when our teacher said to allow the mind to go into the deeper states of consciousness, this ink black portal, a door made of shadows, opened before me once again.

Corpse pose is a preparation for death, not a moment to fear, but rather a letting go. I slide into the velvety, warm blackness, this state of consciousness where poetry is born.

Dream recall made simple

After chatting with a friend about dreams, I thought it might be a good time to revisit a post from my old blog, maria cristina. I wrote this in July, 2007.

The main way to remember your dreams is to use the power of suggestion. If you say to yourself before you go to sleep, ” I’m very serious about remembering my dreams,” or something like that, eventually you’ll remember. At first you might only remember a fragment, but that’s fine. Write down the fragment. Think about the image. Ask yourself what associations you have with it.

Eventually you’ll remember more, until you find yourself recalling four of five dreams a night, maybe even more than you can handle. All you have to do is repeat your intention to yourself and keep a notebook and pen next to your bed.

I go through periods when I try to connect with my creative mind, usually in an effort to understand myself better. Before I go to sleep I say to myself, ‘ I would really like to remember my dreams tonight’. When I wake up in the middle of the night, I scratch a few words down in a spiral notebook, hoping to retrieve the whole dream in the morning. I’ve been working on my dreams off and on for many years. Has it paid off? Do I have a deeper understanding of my life? It’s hard to say, because the dreams keep changing, and so do I. I can say that for a moment, a remembered dream brings me a sense of fulfillment.

My dreams open a window into a mysterious world. When I’m able to draw that world into my daytime life, the wonder of it amazes me. I record the varied scenes and plots that gather over time: a dog comes loping out of a lake, I sail with a hundred ships on the open sea, a wild woman dances the cumbia, and emerald green insects crawl over my washing machine.

Sometimes I wake up in the morning, and the door is closed. The dreamscape is hidden. If I’m patient, the images will surface during the day. While taking a long walk a memory will pop into my mind, until I remember the entire dream by the time I’m home. It’s like taking a tapestry out of a dark closet and hanging it on the wall.

Freud wrote that all dreams are wishes or fears. Carl Jung spoke about archetypes and the collective unconscious. Their theories interest me and help me, but I rely on my own interpretations. The metaphors and symbols are personal. Usually, if I record the dream and let it simmer inside, my own meaning bubbles up. It’s a way of keeping my ear to the ground of my unconscious.

The images that come to me in the night might lead me down a path of enlightenment. Maybe I’ll bring what I find back from my sleep, and show it to others. Will I create a poem? Will I write a story? Or will I dream the dream of divine love?