Friday, June 13, 2008

plural / validation

That night . . . I try again to work on the self-portrait. I position the easel in my symbolically-cluttered apartment just so, . . . , trying to get the angle of my head right. There's something in my eyes when I look at them in the mirror, what is that? Not doubt. More like insecurity. I want to convey an expression of what it's like to be twenty-eight, knowing you're a grown-up but wondering what you're supposed to be when you grow up. I want to capture what it looks like when you start to realize you have to let go of your dreams. I want the pain of my own artistic yearning to appear there, on the canvas.

As I paint, I lose myself in the joy of the work. Later, I'm overcome by an old familiar feeling of faint hope, that maybe I'm capturing something there on the canvas, some essence of what's in my mind's eye. Is this what Jeffrey meant, about meeting God? God, is that you?

In the cold light of morning, of course, there's another old familiar feeling. Dread. What I imagined as a kind of questioning look is more like a primitive muddle of ugly brown paint, in the vague shape of an eyeball.

from Lulu Meets God and Doubts Him


I am always reciting James Dewey's reading quote--something about how poets are failed musicians or failed painters. I would add failed dancer. There's something validating in that thought; then again, I somehow find validation in James Dewey, the way he carried himself, the way he presented his thoughts, the way he approached what he did, does. And of course, there's the fact that you can't separate one name from the other: James Dewey.

This is not a post about James Dewey.

I was considering the similarities between the art forms, between the frustrations the art forms present the artist. I was relating with this book which will end with Mia finding herself as an artist as well as falling in love, and I suddenly won't want to believe in a fictional contemporary painting titled Lulu Meets God and Doubts Him, although I writhe in envy over the title.


The poem I posted last night, and then pulled. . . I don't know what it is. I'm not sure what I'm doing anymore. I don't have the sounding boards in place anymore, not the immediacy of weekly validation and applause and critique. I guess I need to emerge from my new basement room and find a writing group. I just know how much I commit myself to those groups. We talked about how there could never be april again, and there can't. But there were Fob and Poetasters. As I write this, it's what I've been missing. I have no idea how to find one, or if there is such a thing in Bountiful.


I keep trying to explain what it is that happens for me in a writing group. I can't do it without a trip to Hallmark, so I'll leave it alone. But at least I know what I need.


Mr. said...


Is it too late to come to Berkeley? we could certainly use you. Like, a lot.

Are you familiar with the phrase "dancing about architecture"? It's not really what you were posting about, but it is what you made me think of. And being a failed painter may not be such a different metaphor.

Aislin said...

One has to express, somehow. And if it doesn't work one way, if it is not sufficient or acceptable, then it will leak out at the joints and seams. It'll find a way through you, and you'll do what you are born to do: express the amazing S.E. Jenkins.

mlh said...

Dernmit (I'm cutting back on swearing), who said that you could abandon us groups of years past? Yes, things will never be the same, but why does that imply that we have to get into this pattern of pathetically reaching out, then phone calls unreturned,then frustration, pathetic guilt-ridden reaching out etc.?

It's like an intellectual/artistic novelty search, with you always pushing away from the groups and sources from the past and aching for some support now. When you've moved on, what makes you think we have, too?

Even this is pathetic.

Ginsberg said...

I'm twenty-eight right now. So am I supposed to be deciding whether I've blown it on all my dreams and stuff now? Can I get some sort of deadline extension on that?

Good luck finding a new writing group, but please keep sending poems to us if you're so inclined.

Anna B said...

i vote yes on deadline extension. and although i'm certainly not a writing group, i do LOVE reading your poems--send them to me!


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