Saturday, February 9, 2013

alaska project

My first full-length has almost made it around a full year of submitting.  I've heard back from about half the publishers I've sent to, with a handwritten close and good luck! type note, which gives me hope.  It was a secret goal of mine, for 2012, to either get a handwritten note or be a finalist, and I have a secret goal for 2013 too.  I have some new publishers I've discovered, and I don't think, for now, I'll do repeat submissions; instead, I'll wait to hear back from the others and consider how I might revise if it continues to be rejected.

My second full-length is in progress, and I've been enjoying the quiet work of generating new poems, adjusting, seeing which threads are fraying, which are knitting together.  When it started, I had thought it would be a continuation of the (in)fertility:  entering motherhood, how this has rocked my concept of feminism, writing poems about women who could be role models, who are unconventional and belong in a sort of repertoire for my daughter.  (I think so much of my friend Opal's failed girls project and how, in some ways, these women I want to write about seem to be those girls grown up.)  And then I became pregnant with a son, and again, my concept of feminism was jostled, and that has fed into the project too.  Suddenly, there have been poems about observing my husband as a father, giving him a role in my poetry that he never had before.  And I'm looking back, writing about our wedding, in a sequence of poems that, I hope, honor him as a partner.  And then, the ways love can expand to fit all kinds of surprising places.

Somehow, I'm already looking to a third sequence.  I think of it as a "third book," though I have two chapbooks (and a draft of a third) because I think of these things as different beasts and counting in very different ways.  My second, City of Bears, which is in the process of being published, is a smattering of my poems that mesh the natural world with women's experiences.  I love how the life cycle of a moth can serve as a metaphor, how one can sweep over a landscape, and I think I have three dead-animal poems in there ("Offal" with the deer, "The Cape" has a horseshoe crab, and "Ghost in the Verbana" is partly about dissecting a pregnant shark).

In mentorship this past weekend, a fellow-mentee I admire awfully much mentioned how many of my poems are about rituals, about pattern and healing.  I hadn't recognized this until now, that what I'm writing about has so much to do with protection and rhythm. 

So within these two realms, I hope to follow a path that would lead to a third book.  And I think I want it rooted in Alaska, where my husband and I went on our honeymoon.  I started collecting names of Alaskan poets to see what I have to offer to the chorus.  I've never been one to shy away from what's already out there:  I have a list of books on poetry and motherhood that I've been slowly devouring because it's such a subject I wish to contribute to, but also relish.  And now I've made an alaska project list, which isn't just Alaska, but also considering women and the sacred, as well as nature writing in general.  I think of the visceral, physical experiences I'd like to have to broaden my concept of this project:  catching and gutting a fish to eat, riding horseback, canoeing locally, alongside researching Tlingit and Haida legends, pouring over field guides to learn the names of things, reading poets such as Annie Finch and Brenda Hillman alongside Elizabeth Bradfield and Joan Kane.  I hope to one day secure a grant to travel to Alaska--ideally, this would be the last two weeks in June of 2014, which would cover the summer solstice, and being present to those moments would allow for some kind of understanding of where that work is heading.  Returning and filling the well.

PS:  Oh yes and more photographs of Maya than you probably would want from today's hike at Hay Creek are here, and indeed, that is a self portrait of the ol' baby bulge.  I am exactly thirty-nine weeks pregnant today.  Oof.

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