Archive | November, 2010

Time may change me, but I can’t trace time.

24 Nov

I’ve been struggling with a bit of writers’ block on this blog. As a poet, one who takes and gives a lot of criticism and lives very publicly, you’d think I’d be able to shrug off the very abstract idea of People’s disapproval.

You’d think.

Well, after the National Poetry Slam I wrote a quick post on FB rebutting what I read as resentment or disapproval of St. Paul’s victory this summer. There was an incendiary sentence in there, I’m afraid; I was feeling pretty defensive for my friends from Minnesota, who are stellar poets, and work very hard to be the best they can. A couple of my friends from an opposing team got pretty upset. Shocked and apologetic, I pulled the post immediately and called the people who’d let me know I’d hurt them. These folks chastised me, but accepted my very, very humble apology.

About a month ago, I met with another poet whose opinion I’ve come to trust deeply, although we don’t always agree. He warned me against being seen as a blogger/commentator who’s nasty and starts shit for fun. Hearing this saddened me so much. I can be highly judgmental, yes, but throughout the history of this blog in particular, and the notes I’ve posted on FB as well, I’ve tried extremely hard to stay positive, to talk about what’s brilliant and exceptional in our community. I champion it every chance I get, and I try hard to be fair.

So I was thinking about stopping all this. Is it worth it? If I might lose friends or gain any kind of infamy? If the very family I want to support and love misreads my intentions?

I remember once reading about Robert Hayden, a man who wrote some of my favorite poems. At a certain point in his career, some of Hayden’s peers in the Black Arts Movement berated him for considering himself an artist first, and black second. The criticism didn’t change Hayden’s stance, although it probably reinforced his lifelong outsider status in his own mind.

I think it’s time for me to stop thinking of myself as a slammer or slam poet (which I’ve stubbornly, loyally called myself for the last five years), and start just thinking of myself as a writer. I can’t be so worried about belonging that I don’t write what feels true. And my primary loyalty is to the writing.

I’m not going to stop. I’m returning to this with a heavy heart, but with new focus. From this point on, this is officially a blog about poetry as a whole, and also a blog about whatever the fuck is on my mind, no longer a blog specifically on performance poetry. Back to the wilderness, y’all. Let’s see what happens.

Because I need to write new work…

2 Nov

…and it helps to have a network of folks to crit, talk shit, and rub my belly whilst I’m doing so, I’ve decided to participate in November’s 30/30 – which means writing 30 poems in 30 days. Check my notes on Facebook or lj if you want a peek at what’s coming offa the toppa. ❤