An odd thing, the last couple of nights: though I've sat down at my desk and scribbled a little bit, spent a little time reading, most of my writing time has turned into "sitting there reading poems aloud to the empty room" time. I've been reading my own poems aloud a bit, the newer ones, and I've been reading a bunch of poems from Cocktails out loud and realizing how much better I get them when I do that (and so appreciating the precision and the ring of them as I read -- he does some nifty stuff with rhyme I almost overlooked on the page), and I've read a few others aloud as well. But this is part of writing practice, yes? I think it is. I think it counts.
I've got to figure out routines that work. I'm not doing so well at sitting down at my desk from 7 till 10 every evening, which is what I'd like to do; I've gotten a late start the last couple evenings but have still made myself sit down and do a little work just to stay in touch with it. Weekday evenings, after a full day of work, just aren't the best time for me to do a lot of actual writing as a general rule, and if I sit down in hopes of feeling really productive and draft-y I usually get disappointed. (And I am SOOOOO not a morning person.) So I think I will try to spend evenings journaling and reading and doing exercises -- writing imitations, trying forms, stuff like that. Fiddling, tuning the instrument. Also reading aloud for a few minutes every evening, because that feels useful and necessary right now. Then, weekends, I will be revved up and ready to do some serious writing.
My poetry group meets tomorrow night, and I've promised that instead of bringing a poem to be workshopped, I'm going to take the time we'd normally spend on one of my poems & tell them all about Provincetown. I'm going to read them a few D.A. Powell poems (I think I'll read them the "dogs do love trash" one even though they will be scandalized *grin*) and then I'm going to pick out a few things from my notes to talk about and then I'm going to read them two of the new poems I wrote, talking about how I drafted & revised them. I'm really pleased with how I handled the revision process on "Fog, Provincetown" and "Hold" & talking about that will give them some of what I learned during the week.
Thinking of my friend S. who is in Provincetown this week, in Martin Espada's workshop. I envy her. When she gets back we're going to get together and compare notes.
Got a really nice second-hand compliment today on my poem in the current Rattle. It's little things like that sometimes that keep you going. I'm happy just to know someone actually reads my crap; to get a compliment from a stranger is, as they say, gravy. I write for myself, yes, for that feeling I had walking down Pearl Street with my arms open whispering yes ... that's why I do it. But to be listened to, to be read, to be heard, to have someone whose work I respect come up to me the morning after a reading and tell me I inhabited my poem as I read it, to know by the response someone else gives me that my words are ringing true -- that's sweet, sweet, sweet. (Reading a poem to someone is like sex: sometimes you know when you're doing it right just by listening to how their breathing changes.)
Marge Piercy was the first poet I really enjoyed reading aloud, and then Plath, of course: "Stasis in darkness..." I still get out Hopkins sometimes for the sheer pleasure of his words on my tongue. I'm not a "performance poet" by any stretch of the imagination, but sometimes I know when I've gotten it right by how it rings in an empty room -- or a room that isn't empty. I know by listening to how the poem's breathing changes. In Powell's workshop we talked about reading your poems in the bathroom for the acoustics. So now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go talk to myself for a while like the crazy woman I know I am.