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the terror of whatever

My life in Goodreads exile

Currently reading

Ex Machina, Vol. 1: The First Hundred Days
Brian K. Vaughan, Tony Harris
The World Without Us
Alan Weisman
To Be the Poet (William E. Massey Sr. Lectures in the History of American Civilization) - Maxine Hong Kingston Interesting book. On one level it's very self-indulgent, Kingston's diary of her decision to move away from prose and enter into the world of poetry. But I loved that such an accomplished and widely-admired writer as she would be willing to make these fumbling steps in public, baring this awkward process to the world.

She shares her first attempts at poetry and some of them actually made me cringe. Maybe not such a new experience in the age of the internet, but she was one of my favorite writers in college, and it's weird and lovely and interesting to see her tearing down that fourth wall of publishing, the idea that there are Writers and then there are The Rest of Us.

It doesn't matter if her poetry ends up being any good: the point is that she's trying. It's OK to fail, even fail spectacularly. Writing is good for you. Trying things is good for you. It's a great lesson.

She writes about Ted Sexauer's instructions for finding the way to poetry, which I loved and want to hold on to, so here:

"How to feel--Exercise for integrating the internal with the external"

1. First pay attention to what you feel. (It may be one or more general feelings, or one in particular that is asking for attention.) Write one word or a phrase.

2. Close your eyes. Now what do you feel? Write it down.

3. Now look around yourself. What do you see? Write down one thing or several. Make them brief; do not use a complete sentence. (Unless you feel like it.)

4. Close your eyes again. How do you feel now? Write it down. Do not justify it; only acknowledge it.

5. Open your eyes. Write down what you see. Do not attempt to understand or process this. Do not question why.

6. Repeat this process until you are ready to stop.

7. Now find your personal way to put these words together.

"Tonight please try feeling, seeing, noting, noting seeing, noting feeling. Let's try for poems. Let's meet tomorrow with poems in hand. May poetry come to one and all this night."