Following up from yesterday to build some momentum…
Maxine Kumin is one of my heroes. She won the Pulitzer for her collection of poetry, Up Country, in 1973. While her three children were mostly grown at that point, many of the poems in that collection were written when her children were younger.
Kumin and Anne Sexton were great friends right up until the point of Sexton’s suicide. They spent hours on the phone each day going over each others poems line by line, suggesting book titles and even writing children’s books together. Whether they knew it at the time or not, Kumin and Sexton were on the cutting edge for women writers.
Kumin wrote an essay called Interstices where she talks about writing ‘in the interstices of time between laundry and chaffeuring’ and other writing/teaching work that she did.
Inspired by Kumin and other women writers, I carry a poem I’m working on, a book or notebook with me all the time. Not only do I sit in the car before school pick up going over my latest piece, but I’ve even had Izzy write down notes for me as I’m driving.
While it’s wonderful to have great drifting waves of time to write, the truth is that it’s best to consider oneself a writer all the time. I like to carry a notebook around to record phrases from eavesdropped conversations or capture an image. Editing a draft of a new poem can be done in bits and pieces while I’m waiting for Izzy to finish her guitar lesson.
I feel as though I’m writing all the time by observing, editing and reading. When I do get to put pen to paper, I’m not trying to reign myself in from ‘real life’ and find I can get to work more quickly. Everything around me feeds my poetry. An optimal state to be sure. It gets disrupted regularly, but it’s lovely to know it’s there and I’ll get back to it.
Here’s one of Maxine Kumin’s poems-
In the Park
You have forty-nine days between
death and rebirth if you’re a Buddhist.
Even the smallest soul could swim
the English Channel in that time
or climb, like a ten-month-old child,
every step of the Washington Monument
to travel across, up, down, over or through
–you won’t know till you get there which to do.
He laid on me for a few seconds
said Roscoe Black, who lived to tell
about his skirmish with a grizzly bear
in Glacier Park.He laid on me not doing anything.I could feel his heart
beating against my heart.
Never mind lie and lay, the whole world
confuses them.For Roscoe Black you might say
all forty-nine days flew by.
I was raised on the Old Testament.
In it God talks to Moses, Noah,
Samuel, and they answer.
People confer with angels.Certain
animals converse with humans.
It’s a simple world, full of crossovers.
Heaven’s an airy Somewhere, and God
has a nasty temper when provoked,
but if there’s a Hell, little is made of it.
No longtailed Devil, no eternal fire,
and no choosing what to come back as.
When the grizzly bear appears, he lies/lays down
on atheist and zealot.In the pitch-dark
each of us waits for him in Glacier Park.