Today I taped my copy of Bruce Mau’s “An Incomplete Manifesto for Growth” to my wall. Number 18 is to stay up late, so I am typing this post to build some momentum and see what happens (yes, late for me is 10:30pm). I was moved to a private room on my unit, which means I have extra space with a couch and a table. A table! I’ve set up a desk with a lamp, colorful pens and favorite notebooks, some paints, and (temporarily) a sewing machine.
One of my best friends from college came to visit this past weekend and we cut out fabric shapes to sew on onesies and she sewed flags for a nursery banner. This weekend my sweet friends in Columbus also threw me a baby shower. We had it in the family waiting area, and I was allowed to leave my floor for the few hours it lasted (my normal limit is 30-45 minutes at a time) and I could feel like a normal outside person for awhile. There were tissue paper puffs hung from a tree and strewn about the space my friends sectioned off, there were beautifully wrapped gifts–handmade things and vintage children’s books, and so many thoughtful and lovely things, there were decadent snacks (cucumber sandwiches! tartlets with blackberries! vegan chocolate cupcakes!), and so much love and community.
And. My beautiful friend wrote a poem for me and the baby so full of light, love, heart. I’ve always found writing poems for occasions or for ones so close to me near impossible, and I imagine writing for another writer friend would be all that much harder, but it’s wonderful and dear and I keep it scrolled in the bottle she gifted it to me in, taking it out and savoring lines here and there, and then again in totality.
Monday brought some quiet and rest, and today there was not much doing, but time spent enjoying a gift from another dear friend, Birds of a Lesser Paradise, which set me to writing a bit of my own while hooked up to the fetal heartbeat monitor. I also stumbled upon an interview with Amanda Nadelberg, who I had the pleasure of knowing while I was an intern for Milkweed Editions several years back. I am thankful for days of so many good words and thoughts. I recommend reading this interview in its entirety, but here are some of my favorite moments:
“…what’s most interesting to me about the confessional mode isn’t however much that poem is or isn’t about your (or, “a”) mother/brother/neighbor/husband/backyard, it’s the fact that the space of those things is made near and intimate. And that tenor of space can be created “about” anything. And I guess here About really means Around, because I don’t believe in the about in poems, or at least, I’m not listening for it…. often what I listen for in poems is a sense that the writer is a little lost, not deliberately withholding information or turning on the heavy mystery machines, but honestly confounded (by the world? isn’t it so?) and letting others listen in on that figuring.”
“My gut response is that longer poems have more room for generative mistakes, and I mean this in the best way possible, that mistakes or loss of control (length) can sometimes lead to accidental dimensions, emotional and otherwise. I write and read in order not to be in charge, to not know everything…. sometimes I wonder if form is just another word for propulsion.”
“I think poetry is braver than a poem, if only for the collective feeling of a room of people waiting to hear it (i.e. readings, see also: community) or the moment when you tell your airplane seatmate, if you respond when they ask, that you write poetry/are a poet. Poetry is everyone’s and a poem is often just some good or bad attempt at saying anything.”
And I loved reading about how her long poem developed, the carrying of note scraps in a bag, the accumulation creating its own force. The tactility of language and its existence as object.
I don’t think this will be the night that leads to Bruce Mau’s “strange things [that] happen when you’ve gone too far, been up too long, worked too hard, separated from the rest of the world” — third trimester tiredness is getting in the way of that. Tomorrow, however, has possibility. And there is this space in my new room where I can pretend I am on some sort of retreat (with interruptions for baby monitoring), and soon that time will come.