I realized a little while ago that it has been YEARS since I’ve published anything with another press—be it a poem in a magazine, a chapbook, or a book. YEARS! How did that sneak up on me? Well, ?! Press has been more active than ever before these past few years so it’s not like I haven’t been sharing poetry with the world but… what have I been doing? This situation reminds me of when I was in undergrad, in a creative writing program, and would wonder at how some poets would take years upon years between books (Tool style). When turning in a big stack of new poems every few weeks is one of your main responsibilities it can tint your vision slightly in when it comes to the level of productivity you can except to function at in the long term, let’s say… But that aside… what have I been doing? Taking my time mostly, thinking, brainstorming, making and not sharing, or sharing with a small audience. My dad’s illness and passing in July 2018 was not at all a detriment to my creative process or output—just the opposite in fact. He was throughout our time together a profound, profound supporter of my work, and having the chance to create art together in the circumstances in which we found ourselves was a deep change in me as a writer and artist. Any feeling of fear or hesitancy or of being “blocked” fell away and has not returned. Putting on our annual Popsicle! art shows has been a fair amount of work that has made me produce a lot of work and that had been an incredible source of inspiration. So—that’s all good.
But still … I don’t have anything ready to send to a publisher today, or perhaps more rightly, nothing I want to share with people beyond the more intimate one to one of selling someone a chapbook for $5, or emailing a pal a poem.
I have been attempting to maintain a proper functioning Instagram but I feel I keep sliding into this feeling that I should only be showing finished things, or nearly finished, nearly ready for purchase things… and I don’t think that’s a great well of productivity. I think I can and should break out of that because I find a lot of value in Instagram. I don’t want to be too uncritical of it but I find the neat things the artists and writers I follow post inspiring. Right now I have a great big chunk of a manuscript that’s part of a still bigger project done, but I find myself thinking “well can’t share that until the book’s about to come out or everyone will already be sick of it and won’t buy it…”—I do a lot of that sort of thinking lately which is just a whole lotta nothing. So I’m gonna have to shake that up and stop feeling so contrived when it comes to the gram.
But I digress… writing for me right now is a slow burn, which I’m fine with, but I also want to direct my energy in the way that I’m going to find most satisfying, which includes finishing some long term projects and sharing them with the world. I was also writing a list of priorities out for myself (life stuff like “get sleep, exercise, eat at home more, make time for friends”) and “bring people together with art” slipped out without me thinking about it. I’m not totally sure why I wrote it, but it gave me the idea of blogging more.
I used to blog more regularly many years ago, but I laboured over those posts quite a bit—theory, reviews, research, etc. Rather than getting back into that kind of thing this time I’m just going to write about what I’m up to, the process I’m going through with the projects I’m working on, and when I’m not actively working on a poem what I’m doing that feeds into my writing and visual art making overall.
I think this will be fun and satisfying for me both to see “hey I didn’t write a poem today but I actually did do something to help me work on that project” and I hope it’ll be fun for you… either as a simple diversion or as a way to say “yup me too, I’ve got a full time job and responsibilities and other interests BUT I sill want to be an active writer.” Through all this will run a ribbon of grief and loss I’m sure. My dad’s passing is something I feel every day and it echoes in all aspects of my life, including in my art, especially in my art, even when that art isn’t about my dad. So if you’re grieving while also doing your art thing maybe this will appeal on that level.
Overall, I think doing a regular blog about writing and art will help me focus my efforts to finish some projects, and be a fun way to reach out from that quiet, solitary, creative space of making stuff alone at home.
So this is the first of these regular posts.
So what am I doing? Well our latest Popsicle! show was on the weekend, so I know I have some admin-y things to do there (photograph the new chapbook and put it on the website and such), and I also need to complete my report for the Alberta Foundation for the Arts on “Glass Clouds” the manuscript I recently finished (more about that to come). But the first writing goal I’ve set for myself is getting “Bloom & Martyr” out in the world in its entirety in book form. I was all set to send it out for consideration when I realized I published slightly more than half of it which I know can be bad news for publishers, so I’m now writing a long poem in the same style about fall to go with “Bloom & Martyr.” I didn’t do any writing today but I did go for a walk with the fam to take photos and soak up the almost intolerable beauty of autumn and get inspired. I do feel inspired.