what I'm thinking and doing § what I'm listening to § what I'm reading
what I'm writing § retrospective: The Phonosnout
It's very different thinking about love now that I've been monogamously married for over 15 years. The girl who wrote The Phonosnout entries would be surprised, I think, at the love I have now. I'd like to think I could convince her of its value, but I know that when I was younger I was seriously romantic and expected to live this life full of lovers and exotic adventures. Instead I'm married and despite my love of travelling to the U.K., I find myself quite the homebody. I think because I've learned that if I want to write I have to be home long enough and emotionally settled enough to get the work done. I've written travel journals and sketched out some poems while travelling, but it has been the raw material for work and not the work itself.
Hmm, what does this have to do with Valentine's Day and love? Well, I think maybe I'm drawing some parallels here. That the kind of love I value most now requires spending long quiet time with the one(s) you love. Years, maybe.
I've never loved anyone the way I love Jim. It's simply not possible. I haven't spent 15 years living with anyone else daily, with the exception of my parents and sister. Sure I've had passions and they were superficially more intense that what I have now on the level of physical awareness and the conscious obsessive thought about the other, but they certainly weren't deeper. Surface fires, like oil burning on the ocean, when there's a whole sea of emotion there to engage, the whole ocean of your life and emotional consciousness for the fire to permeate.
Well, you get the picture.
So here's Jim and I meeting. We're in our early 20s. We're both leaving the places our families lived for the first time, really, despite both of us having lived away from home before. He's from North Carolina; she's from British Columbia. He's shy and sarcastic; she's social and romantic. Both write poetry seriously enough to go to school so we could continue doing writing it and stave off the horrible grown up getting-a-job-to-support-ourselves business.
We're both about to start the M.F.A. in writing poetry program at the University of Montana, and Richard Hugo, an excellent and famous poet and the reason why we choose Montana in the first place, is assigned as our advisor, and we need to get him to sign our registration form before we can hang out in the horrible line and register for classes. So we wait for several hours, a few of us, talking about starting the program and where we come from and who we read and all. I thought Jim was kind of dorky but interesting and attractive and damn smart. We started hanging around a lot together. After a couple of weeks I clearly let him know I'm interested in him. He's chicken and turns me down but not forever. I have a brief, high fire romance with someone else but it ends, and Jim and I have continued to get to know each other better.
And there we are. We spend the rest of the year getting to know each other better. He meets my parents in March, visits me at home in the summer, and we move in by the next December (hey, we're graduate students and what's the point of paying two rents, especially when we're only on one place at a time) and by January we've decided to get married because his Catholic family is a little freaked out by the cohabitation, and besides after I graduate my student visa will be gone and we'd have to live in different countries. So we get married.
At the time I didn't have a whole lot of faith that we'd stay married. I was rather against the whole idea of marriage and couldn't see myself giving up Romance and Adventure. But Jim is fun and he likes to live the same way I do which is no small thing, and besides, we love each other.
So here we still are. Happy Valentine's Day, Jim. The fires aren't as obvious because they've seeped throughout the whole ocean, but they're still there.
But I don't think he knows this journal is here yet.
Newly added is Meg Lunney's The Margaret Anns--which is hard to describe. More like early No Borders Here Jane Siberry than anything else I can think of. Maybe a touch of Mary Margaret O'Hara, too, particularly in the voice. And a couple of Celtic songs on the disc. Interesting and different.
Oh, and I also got a live tape of Pepper Acton. I'd love to hear her live!
I got so uninvolved in the story that I ever took time out to race through Christabel's The Mortal Immortals last night. This is a book I read in junior high and loved so much I talked the librarian into letting me have the copy out of our school library (no one had ever taken the book out in the years it had been in the collection). I hung onto that copy for years, even leaving it behind at my parents' house when I went away to graduate school, but at one point I let it go out in a charity donation and regretted it ever since. I finally found another copy, but paid quite a bit for it as it's now rare. Anyway, it wasn't quite as wonderfully magic for me as it was in my teens, but I did enjoy reading it! Not terribly well-written, but there's something charming about it.
I also realized here that I rarely talk about the poetry I'm reading--I think that's because unlike fiction I rarely read a poetry book cover to cover. So here's some of the poetry I've been dipping into recently: Jan Zwicky's Songs for Relinquishing the Earth, Susan Andrews Grace's Ferry Woman's History of the World, and Margaret Gibson's The Vigil: A Poem in Four Voices.
And I've also been enjoying reading Chiara Shah's India trip journal.
Things are starting to come together. I finalized the Lucidity chapbook and got it out in the mail to the local (state-wide) poetry chapbook contest. That must have opened the floodgates because since then I've sent out four poetry submissions, which means that in addition to the chapbook I have 20 poems in the mail.
I've been thinking a lot about why I stopped submitting poems in recent years. There was a time when Spells for Clear Vision was published that I simply didn't have many poems finished that were unpublished and there was a dramatic fall-off in the number of submissions I sent out (from 11 in 1993 to 1 in 1994, and in 1996 I didn't send out any poetry at all, but that is when I started really focusing on fiction).
Whew! Shortly after I wrote that (and well before completing the rest of this entry) I heard back from one of those submissions (my first poetry submission by email and my first poetry submission to a speculative poetry venue, though I've had many poems with speculative themes published in mainstream literary journals). Star*Line is taking two of my speculative poems. What a wonderful welcome back to the world of submitting poetry! They even pay in more than copies.
I also got word that my second published short story, "Ars Poetica" has just appeared in Odyssey issue 7, which has made its way to subscribers in the U.K. and is slowly making its way across the Atlantic for me to see. ODYSSEY is spottily available in the U.S. in Barnes and Noble.
And I enjoyed reading at the It's About Time reading series on Thursday night. There was a good audience and I was utterly relaxed. I've realized, though, I like having longer than 15 minutes in group readings. It has been a while since I was able to give a longer reading, and I miss it.
All in all, an excellent writing week.
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