Saturday, January 13, 2007

My List of 30 Inspirations -- 6-10

As I've been thinking about this list during the last couple of days, I keep thinking in big terms & social terms. I've been trying to be frivolous and light, but it's not happening. When it comes down to it, the big things are what truly feed me.

6 -- Media
Media is my best friend and my arch nemesis. Without media, I don't know what I would rage against. I also don't know what I'd do with all of my free time. I believe equally in the equalizing power of the media, in the right hands, and the imperialist and conquering force of media in the wrong hands. I am constantly puzzling over the freedom and responsibility of expression.
7 -- Sin & Forgiveness
Sherman Alexie, in his poem Indian Boy Love Song # 1, has this movement of lines about all the people he has lost to their various tragedies, remaining on earth, in sin and forgiveness. That line has been haunting me this afternoon. The idea of Sin and Forgiveness, though, has been haunting me most of my life. As a person, I obsess over my sins, to myself and to others, and I stumble towards forgiveness. As a writer, I like to chronicle perceived sins, and how we work towards forgiveness in ourselves and in our lives.

I think I'm stuck with Elizabeth Bishop. In graduate school, I had to read her Collected Poems in three separate and consecutive classes. Each time was a distinct experience. In some ways, I feel like her clipped, patrician, formal writing represents all the things that are wrong with my writing. I run to her style because it is so bare and precise, but at the same time entirely impenetrable. But then, I read poems like "One Art", "In the Waiting Room", or "Sestina" and I feel lucky when I see that glimpse of honesty and vulnerability. I pray for that kind of awareness and light in my own writing.

9 -- My Past
I don't have much of a real past. Not in a scandalous, lascivious sense. Sometimes, though, it feels like something that I am often trying to escape or to forget. A couple of my best friends have known me since I was 15 (almost half of my life) and they remember me in my dark and embarrassing moments. In my other incarnations. But,even as I run from it and deny, it is such a huge part of me and my writing. I hardly ever write in the present tense. Instead, I chronicle all those moments that I want to forget.

It's seems a little antithetical that a feminist poet would love such a misogynist writer. But I do. This summer, while in California with my dad, I was lucky enough to visit the Henry Miller Library in Big Sur and it was a rush and a thrill. I began reading Miller when I was in college, and I think I am so attracted to his writing because it is so visceral, honest and biting. All qualities I hope to engender in my writing.