Perhaps it is the sea of fake news we find ourselves drowning in, or perhaps the spew of lies that click so easily off Trump’s digits, whatever the reason, I am drawn more and more to reading the “confessional poets” of yesteryear. Those original ones, who cared little for the moniker but much for “focusing on extreme moments of individual experience, the psyche, and personal trauma, including previously and occasionally still taboo matters” (Confessional poetry). Plath, Lowell, Sexton. They broke repression and oppression. Wove the atrocities of the Nazis into autobiographical poetry. Created verse from what we denied, with the stuff left under the rug. As their ashtrays overflowed and they pounded typewriter keys, their truth loosened onto the page and heralded a revolution of honesty.
We need those crazy fragile ones back on the center shelf. Enough with fiction for a while. Enough with thinking it isn’t the obscene power of the AR-15 that is slaughtering us. Enough with thinking that Trump isn’t motivated solely to further fatten his paunch. Enough with thinking these moral right-wingers have morals, or at least the same ones that you and I share. You know, like caring that babies are murdered at school or church or anywhere a deranged angry white man with an assault weapon cuts them down. If you still read Facebook “news” with conviction or scroll down your Twitter feed believing those 140 or now 280 characters, then wake up, you are being made the fool.
Hate breeds hate, right? Remember that one from kindergarten? We have been lead into a labyrinth of falsehoods from the naked emperor to those scurry to do his bidding. Time to taste the bitter pill. Face the hard facts. We have violated our selves. Our women. Our poor. Our neighbors. Our small towns and big cities. Our planet. Continue reading
It really isn’t because I’m reading Claire Dederer’s latest memoir, Love and Trouble, but I must admit, she’s gotten me thinking. About how I wished I wrote with her daring pen. About all those crazy-ass years when I was running straight into the black, and these slightly more stable years, when some of that crazy is boomeranging back. But it isn’t totally that either, it’s my job and the demands that are clear insanity but you can’t actually admit to it because it’s your job after all and you need to keep it a few more years; it’s the guy in the White House who I can’t bring myself to call president or give his title a capital letter but still, you know he’s there and the whole world is acting like he didn’t in fact steal the election but somehow might be qualified even though he’s the very definition of shit show; it’s about summer’s abrupt end and my love of drinking a tad too much rosé, okay my addiction that hasn’t stopped even though I know better and one should stop drinking Summer’s Water; but ultimately it’s about racing and racing every day ahead of just about every deadline so that I can feel like I have it together but know I don’t. Yeah, today, it’s all of that.
When it all comes tumbling down, there is us. Between tropical hurricanes, and devastating south Asian floods, and politicians messing with Dreamers, there is us. Holding on to a thin thread. Waking in the dawn to go through the routines of life. Time to deconstruct problems, to formalize conflicts, to ask those why questions, all flit like butterflies in our mind as we wait at red lights or on post office lines, but with never enough time to think deeply enough. Because solutions take longer than a moment. We need silence. Staring. Stopping. And when can we ever manage that? I fear that living has shifted into something so swift that none of us can even question anything. Do it quick and move on. Congress shores up the government for three months and calls it good enough. We mail off a check to the Houston Red Cross and sigh relief. We hit high heat on the microwave and call it dinner. Afterwards we click the button on the controller and let our babies stare at the screen with us. Prefer to text, not to talk. Scroll through the news-feed liking every back to school shot without even looking to see their timid faces peering over their new backpacks and lunch sacks. We’re on the move to nowhere. Tumbling down. Thankfully the earth is there to catch us.
Headlines from coast to coast state the current crisis in our leadership better than I could…of course you might want to dig a bit and read past the headlines, but if you’re pressed for time, these statements might be all you need to gauge the American opinion of who exactly is at our helm.
Trump Gives White Supremacists an Unequivocal Boost (New York Times)
Trump Loses Corporate America (Wall Street Journal)
Trump administration wants to praise the county mayor in Miami. He just slammed Trump (Miami Herald)
David Duke and Donald Trump and the long ties of history (Chicago Tribune)
Former presidents Bush rebuke Trump’s neo-Nazi stance (Dallas News)
“…One can’t stay sad very long in such an interesting world, can one?” ― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables. The words of the headstrong and spunky orphan Anne have rung out to her countless readers since Canadian author Montgomery first published her international success of a novel in 1908. Not only did Anne’s delight over all things take over my imagination, but began my love affair with Prince Edward Island, both the setting of the Anne novels and the home of Lucy Maud Montgomery herself. Spending a week exploring PEI only reminded me of the renewing power of the natural world and its calming effects on one’s psyche.
There are moments in one’s past that stand the test of time. They shine while all the rest muddies. They remain as beacons which illuminate all your future achievements. Sometimes you know in advance, other times it is only in reflection, but those moments grow roots throughout your life and cannot be disentangled from who you are, ever. Receiving my MA from Middlebury’s Bread Loaf School of English is such a moment for me. One for which I read and wrote and thought and worked harder than anything to reach. Of course there are many people who steered me to that pinnacle, but there was one woman who did so through her own extraordinary passion to enliven and enrich the learning of every student, whether we were in her classroom or for those in classrooms we would return to in the fall, she supported me to be my own teacher-researcher, to gather my own anecdotes, all in the service of being a better teacher. This notion seemed novel at first, the idea that a teacher could guide herself and use her own students’ feedback in such an endeavor, but Dixie Goswami’s commitment empowered me more than any educational program I had been in before, or since, and continues to direct my practice even now, two decades later.
Last week I checked off my last have-to on my to-do list. Last, for now. During the other 11 months there is almost always a frantic side to me. A rushing. An inability to breathe deeply. Racing from bed to shower to work to workout to errands and chores and stuff to more work to finally bed for months on end. Doesn’t most everyone live such a manic pace? But this week, this July first Monday morning came and drifted into afternoon then into dusky evening, and besides lacing my sneakers for a hilly hot mid-day run, deliciously meandering, I did nothing that felt like a job. Just flitted from one spot to another following sunbeams like a roadside daisy. By evening my lungs were tired from use. Oh July, you are a glorious celebratory month of lazy hazy daydreams.