October 21, 2009

the ball poem

What is the boy now, who has lost his ball,
What, what is he to do? I saw it go
Merrily bouncing, down the street, and then
Merrily over-there it is in the water!
No use to say 'O there are other balls':
An ultimate shaking of grief fixes the boy
As he stands rigid, trembling, staring down
All his youth days into the harbour where
His ball went. I would not intrude on him,
A dime, another ball, is worthless. Now
He senses first responsibility
In a world of possessions. People will take balls,
Balls will be lost always, little boy,
And no one buys a ball back. Money is external.
He is learning, well behind his desperate eyes,
The epistemology of loss, how to stand up
Knowing what every man must one day know
And most know many days, how to stand up
And gradually light returns to the street,
A whistle blows, the ball is out of sight,
Soon part of me will explore the deep and dark
Floor of the harbour . .I am everywhere,
I suffer and move, my mind and my heart move
With all that move me, under the water
Or whistling, I am not a little boy.

this is JB, but it's not one of the dream songs, like we talked about earlier. this is one of his early poems; before the sonnets, before the dream songs, before mrs. bradstreet. at this point he still wanted to be just like yeats. weird. i like that the grief "fixes the boy." i like the end of this poem where the narrative unravels, and suddenly the poem is in first person. everything dissolves, there's water, the ball is "out of sight," we are not talking about a ball anymore; "i am not a little boy."

could not life continue on earth without wind or must everything tremble, always, always?


October 11, 2009

i'll die. i won't die.

so, it seems to me that a lot of people like to tell young writers who are just starting out, just learning, that in order to become a better writer you have to write everyday.


okay, wait.

i want to believe that the more you write, the better you get. i want to believe that there's a clear cut path to getting better, and i want to be on that path. especially when the people who endorse that path are people that i really really admire, like lorrie moore and many others. and you know, i do believe it. i believe that if you write everyday you will become a better writer. i mean, why wouldn't you? but i don't write everyday, and as a teacher told me sophomore year, we do not live in a writer's world. what she meant by this is that everything in our environment prevents writing. i realized this was true. even ipods stop me from writing. not paper writing, but thought writing. the kind where you come up with lines, sentences, what have you, in your head while just walking around or riding the train (these two activities currently take up 98% of my time.) you spend that time walking around with someone else's words in your head instead of your own, and it gets in the way.

the other tough thing about writing is that no one really cares if you do it. i don't mean this in any kind of self-effacing way, but really. no one cares. if you stop writing, no one really cares. i have a lot of friends who write, a lot of friends who i care about deeply. but if they stopped writing, no. i wouldn't care. and i don't think that they would care if i stopped writing. and i don't think my teachers would care if i stopped writing. and after a few years, i probably wouldn't care either and THAT IS A SCARY SCARY THOUGHT. writing is very fragile. luckily i live with a writer, one of the ones i care about, who understands and lets me eat her left over spring rolls while i complain when i get home from work, and i know we're all afraid.

i want to do a better job as a writer. i haven't been "showing up for myself", as a teacher put it freshman year. i went to talk to this teacher about my situation, and after i explained in a convoluted, "oh it's not a big deal, whatever, you knowww," but actually pretty concerned way, he advised me to go look for it.

so maybe the way you look for it is by writing. and how you write reflects how you're looking. sometimes writing is something that's lost like your keys, and you HAVE TO FIND IT RIGHT NOW or else you can't leave the house, and you're frustrated and you're making so many piles in order to find it. other times i think it's lost like a shirt that you want to wear, but you can't find it so you just watch 8 episodes of 30 rock, i mean, uh, wear a different shirt. other times, it finds you and this feels like a snow day. like class getting cancelled. like an accident. and then you're not sure how it happened, or if it will ever happen again.