Friday, January 12, 2007

My List of 30 Inspirations -- 1-5

Next Wednesday, I'm turning 30. When my husband turned 30 last year, he got a huge back tattoo and panicked about his future. My best friend from college turned 30 two days ago and she drank Irish Car Bombs in a bar. My best friend in Minneapolis turned 30 two years ago and he seriously considered joining the military.

Personally, I'm not having even close to the same response. I thought I would be panicking, but I'm almost serene. I'm planning my celebration and (in my short bursts of free time) contemplating my life. So, in that vein, I'm going to list (in no particular order) the 30 things that inspire me & feed me as a writer.

1 -- SARK
I discovered the writer SARK when I was 15 years old. I had just moved to Minneapolis and I had no one to talk to besides my brother. I was browsing in Orr Books and found her first book, A Creative Companion. Her curlicue writing and colorful doodles inspired me. I began journaling, sporadically, and learned that my creative process was individual and okay.

2 -- My Students
I may gnash my teeth about my job and all the stress, but this past week of teaching has been invigorating. When I get to teach writing to people who are unfamiliar with it, or who outright dislike it, I get to share my passion for my craft. This is truly a gift, especially when they become competent at writing or (shock) start to like it.

Again, this list is in no particular order. If it were in an order, Ani would probably be in the top ten. I saw Ani DiFranco perform at my college when I was 19 years old. I've been hooked ever since. I am amazed at her ability to tell the truth and to make it sound so damn good.

4 -- My Body
I don't think I would be a poet if I didn't honor my sensory experience every day. I know that sounds weird, because of course everyone has sensory experiences every day. But how often do we take the time to notice them? I find that my longest dry spells, as a writer, are when I am spending too much time in my head. I also know that my poems that don't work are ones in which I intellectualize a physical moment.

I didn't discover Muriel Rukeyser for myself until I was in graduate school. I was taking a women's poetry class, one of many in my academic career, and my professor, Patricia Kirkpatrick, introduced me to her criticism and poetry. (If you haven't read The Life of Poetry, you should.) Her poetry is sensual, honesty, political and breathtaking. She is a model for fearless women poets, before there were many.