Sunday, August 5, 2012
2012-2013 loft mentorship
Not that I've been knocked up enough times to cite a true pattern, but it seems each time I am with child, I want nothing more than to hibernate--to curl up into the child's pose and read a great deal of fiction in bed, preferably with a snowstorm or a thunderstorm out the window and my husband playing tag with our daughter in the living room. Me upstairs, just to clarify.
It's hopeless for me to make any kind of play date that involves rooms without doors these days. Not without my un-nauseated husband, that is. Me, I'm sunk into it up to my armpits, and I feel aversion not just to random foods, any kind of motion (including, as we discovered today, going over train tracks, and last week, the merry-go-round was incredibly destructive, my eyes squint-shut and praying the ride would be over soon, soon, soon), but I also seem to avoid work of any sort. That is to say, I will have spurts of ambition and might organize an entire dangerous pile of books into their alphabetical homes in one fell swoop or maybe organize Maya's closet according to future-sizes and get that second dresser ready for past-sizes to go on the tadpole within, but mostly, I just want to be lumpish and kneel with my head resting on our new stain-resistant carpet.
Poems are not forthcoming.
This isn't entirely true. I feel lots bubbling inside of me, alongside tonight's shrimp with broccoli, but I have lost that hugely industrious pattern I had when insomnia was at its pregnancy-induced height. I was submitting poems in batches of ten journals a night and in April, I managed a new, worthy of revision poem nearly every day. What's more, I actually wanted to converse about poetry and read the sorts of books that require a pen for the margins and eat, breathe, sleep it all. And I was. I dreamed poems into being. Now, my Ambien prescription blanks much of those evenings out, and my thrice-weekly trips to the acupuncturist / chiropractic has cleared up a good portion of my restless legs syndrome.
The closing of an MFA thesis helped keep me going when I was pregnant with Maya and in that post-baby haze. I had to churn out twenty new poems in a matter of weeks, or the fire-breathing so-and-so (not on my committee) would peel my skin and I'd be a puddle of postpartum tears. In many ways, it was good for me--not the cruelty, but the sprint-to-the-finish that spring. I kept reading. And writing, and nursing, and writing, and breathing.
This academic year, I'll be extending that experience--not through the university program, but through the Loft Literary Center, a place I've loved and admired for years. There are many incredible programs this place puts out, and one of them is the year-long mentorship sequence. It's a competitive program, and I feel incredibly, incredibly honored to have been selected among the many manuscripts to spend these next seasons with twelve mentees (four in each of the poetry, fiction, and nonfiction genres) and six mentors (two in each aforementioned genres). The poetry mentors will be Jude Nutter (representing the local faction) and Oliver de la Paz.
I've worked with Jude before, when Intermedia Arts had a program called Writer-to-Writer, another mentorship program, this one designed where four writers work with one mentor, divvying up the time as the group sees fit. The Loft's is different in that it has a strict schedule, I brought home a binder that could really do some damage if it fell from a great height, and you work across genres regularly. Like Intermedia's program, this one culminates in a reading, and reading at the Loft has been one of those fantasies I've had, a kind of something to check of my list of goals as a poet.
Receiving a space in this program is humbling. In the binder, there's a list of the past mentees and some of them have gone on to have careers I've really admired. It's also precisely what I needed at precisely the right time: discipline. When I was carrying my cell phone about me like Maya with one of her bee-bees, waiting and hoping for that phone call, my friend Meryl told me that, while she had absolute confidence that I would be accepted, if I didn't, then the universe was making space for something else that my writing life needed. When she said that, I knew that the Loft mentorship was exactly that, though I couldn't say it, not out loud. I didn't want to jinx it.
So here I am, getting foggier with sleeping medicine, about to pull my novel upstairs with me and curl into bed with my just-bathed daughter and my exhausted-but-content husband, and I feel that jittery and important connection to poetry being maintained, no matter how much this delightful parasite wants the whole of me, deteriorating brain and all.