Thursday, July 24, 2008

I have a problem. Actually, I have many problems. But tonight, one giant one in particular that I have 24-ish hours to figure out, to some degree.

I'm a writer. Who has no idea what she's writing about.

Here's the thing: I'm sending one last application out into the void/abyss/hellhole. Only this one is for an MFA. I can't get by on my academic charm (of which I have many). It's the poetry first and foremost, and then how I talk about the poetry. Steve Tuttle warned me of this: I have to say what it is I write.

I don't know what I write.

I write about wings, because they began to represent Trent, and then (I think) they became something bigger than that one friend. They represent the people who leave, one way or another.

I write about backs (although I don't think any back poems made it into this writing sample) because I am acutely aware of my own back, my own pain, and because the shoulder blades suggest wings.

I write at and about and around art because I wish I were a painter--even if Dickinson and O'Hara argue against it. Because there can be an entire world in a canvas--something I think my poetry suggests is that a poem can't contain the world, can barely contain a piece of it.

Kim once said I write about relationships. And I was mildly annoyed with her. But she was right: every poem is creating the space between people. The space we can't cross. The space we try to cross. There is the speaker and there is the "you." And the "you" is god or a man or all men and all women.

Jordan asked who I wrote "First and Last Looks" for, because it must be a love poem. I didn't tell him that there wasn't anyone to love like that.

In "things incommon," I propose an artist's statement of sorts: "This poem//is autobiographical mostly it is honest it lets me love you on days//which never come you know love is [. . .]" I am writing what I know, what I don't know, and (most of all) what I want. I want art and life and wings of my own. I have lived in the same state, in the same place, for over two decades--just a few years in Texas to break up the years in Utah. I want a chance to experience something new, someone new. I don't want to sit in on neighborhood gossip and suddenly be approached by the mention of Michael, who was the original "you." Which means that there was, once, someone to love like that.

That's what my poetry is about: the Other and trying to connect with the Other, trying to establish relationships. It's about remembering those who don't always want to be remembered, or who the speaker doesn't want to remember. "Memory is a verb is is an action is an abstract withdrawn functioning of function of the chair holding folding dropping and fall, fall, fall. Forget to stand I forget to walk forget to experience the morning and everything falls with him with you and you all fly away golden godlike."

But this is too honest, in my mind, for a statement of purpose: Dear Sirs and Madams of the Admissions Board: I need to leave Utah. I need new ideas to write about. I need a chance to live outside of these relationships.

And yet. . . I don't think I will ever let go, even when "you" do.


oh! resolution said...
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B.G. Christensen said...

I think this works beautifully as a personal statement--though I do think you need to include a back poem in your sample. Your discussion of leaving Utah could be read as a plea for the admission people to save you from the state, but within the context of the other stuff it works as a statement of what your poetry is about.

Christian said...

I agree with Fobby.

Th. said...


That sounds good to me.

Anna B said...

i think it's amazing. seriously, so intense. wow.

Aaron Allen said...

I really like this post, extremely honest. I do think you write mainly about yourself and the sphere of your observations, within and without. But I also feel most of your poems have to do with want, and that you write a lot about want, about incompletion and about alienation within the relationships you are describing. Those are my two cents, don't go spending them all in one place now.

Ginsberg said...

Wait, you lived in Texas once? Really? Texas?


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