“And if you don’t live, you have nothing to write about.” – Maynard James Keenan
It’s been awhile since I’ve written anything for the blog, mostly because I’ve been out there in the real world dealing with so many “adult” things I think my head may explode. The great news is that I have been feeling inspired to write creatively again and I’ve been writing every day.
I couldn’t tell you why paying my bills, taking care of my dog on my own, dating, working, freelancing, and traveling extensively have fused together to make me feel poetry again, but they have. I think it has to do with the fact that instead of putting so much pressure into the page and into my future with the page, I’ve been applying that intense pressure to my actual life. And now the words are bubbling up.
I haven’t felt like writing poetry in years and yet here I have been writing poems in my tiny red journal. The first day I put the pen down to write a poem was about a month ago. I went to Brooklyn Bookfest, as I always do, to attend panels, to lurk at the stands of my favorite literary magazines, and to soak up the energy that comes from being surrounded by people who love the sweet pain of writing too.
I attended a panel with my favorite contemporary author Nick Flynn (Another Bullshit Night in Suck City) called “Poets Looking Back.” He sat with Ada Limon, Cate Marvin, and Gregory Pardlo to talk about their collections of poetry and how they use their personal experiences to shape their writing.
I have always loved Nick Flynn as a non-fiction writer because of his fluidity and choppy chapters. His non-fiction is very much influenced by poetry and by rhythm. I have always aspired to be so cool with my words. Beautiful and well-crafted, sure, but man, do I want to be as cool as Nick Flynn.
Being at the panel I started thinking about my own writing and passions. It was very powerful for me to hear from successful poets who combine non-fiction and poetry in such an open and honest way. I feel like I’ve always been afraid to do this upfront, that the two are different, never to be entangled. The Romeo and Juliet of a writing life. I think also we were always taught in school to keep them separate because in poetry you can stretch any truth and in non-fiction you have to be true. Blurring the lines was dangerous and often, not allowed.
It’s silly how I’ve let an education from 15 years ago change the way I write. Silly and embarrassing. But this is how we grow. This is how we change how we write. And this is how we change how we live.
Each poet read a poem, and even though I came for the Flynn, I stayed for the Limon and wound purchasing both of their books of poetry. Flynn’s “My Feelings”, and Limon’s “Bright Dead Things”. I was obsessed with the poem that Limon read, straightforward, sexual, powerful, and knew I had to have the book.
Since that day, I have written poetry almost every day. Most of it is terrible, as I clean off all my rusty hinges, but I have to say, it feels like the words have found a place in me again. And I have missed them.