I’ve been struggling with a major rewrite of Chapter 2 of my book manuscript, City Indians. Chapter 2 is about the representations of homelessness in Sherman Alexie’s work. The combination of baby brain, lack of sleep, and a summer compulsion toward laziness are seriously not helping me here. I’m writing terrible, messy sentences, I am not using transitions, my argument is circular and goes nowhere, and I’m pretty sure it’s all out of order. Sure, it’s a draft, and I can make it pretty later, but this is really a slog. I need to pick up the pace if I’m going to make any progress this summer. I’ve got a countdown to tenure and an actual manuscript deadline. Wish me luck!
My copies of Yellow Medicine Review arrived in the mail last week. This issue, guest edited by the wonderful Carter Meland, includes three of my poems: “Dream Girl,” “(The Square),” and “That Boy.” It’s odd for me to see these three sharing space–they come from such different times in my life. “Dream Girl” is really recent and is about being pregnant. It is a very private and emotionally-charged piece. “(The Square)” comes from my time in New Mexico in the early 1990s, and “That Boy” recounts an event that occurred my first year in South Dakota, in 2006. Carter was seeking work that haunted, and this is one way these three pieces work together. Also, they are all in free verse–not in my usual prose form.
My last poem, a “farewell” poem, is “Unspoken,” a farewell to San Diego, where I lived for six years—fourteen years ago. Of all the places I’ve lived (and it’s many), I miss San Diego the most. It was the most beautiful place, with the most perfect weather, but I was ironically so unhappy there. Farewell to “arguments and skinny girls”!
And so I’ve survived NaPoWriMo 2014! I missed a day or two, I think, which I will make up soon. I’ve had a blast. Thanks for staying tuned!
Oh, and great news! I have three poems in the forthcoming spring issue of Yellow Medicine Review.
“The Sculptor” is my attempt at “Twenty Little Poetry Projects.” Well, to be honest, it maybe contains ten. The poem is about a sculptor I knew, who developed Alzheimer’s and forgot how to speak English—and eventually how to sculpt.
My poem “Shawl Dance” is a response to a news article about Christina Fallin’s misappropriation of Native cultural symbols. Fallin, daughter of Oklahoma governor Mary Fallin, has been wearing headdresses and other regalia while performing with her band Pink Pony. At a recent show in Norman, Oklahoma, she wore a shawl with the word sheep written on it, while flipping off the Native protestors who had gathered. Fallin was suggesting that Indians don’t think for themselves. I beg to differ. I have used the following words from the article: music, Oklahoma, Native, pony, family, tribes, land, shawl, regalia, protest, representation. P.S. I use anaphora again—“I have learned.” Here is an excerpt:
I have learned that there are many ways to be Native.
I have learned that protest is essential to survival.
I have learned that languages can be revived.
“We Are Born” is a poem about the first photograph taken of my son and me, just minutes after he was born. The picture captures the moment I first saw him, as I am taking him in and whispering something to him. The memory itself is hazy—I had been in labor for hours and ended up in the operating room for a C-section. In this poem, I imagine that this is the very moment that I become his mother.
My unrhymed curtal sonnet for today is “Anonymous,” after Gerard Manley Hopkins’s “Pied Beauty.” The “praise” in this case is for the donor who helped us conceive our son. “Praise be to him for swimming things—“ it begins.