On Poetry, the Past, the Present

There are a couple posts I want to write -

1)  Trail reviews for the hiking Eric and I did in Trinidad, and...

2)  a post about the productivity book I'm reading (Hahahaha - part of my brain just cracks up every time I hear the word "productivity") and...

3) other things?

What is it? I'm pretty sure it's a goddamn poem waiting to be recognized...

What is it? I'm pretty sure it's a goddamn poem waiting to be recognized...

But what I really want to talk about are the effects of that year of blogging I did. 

I've mentioned that I want to do some follow-up posts, share how the things I started have held up, but what my attention keeps going back to are the posts that have gotten hits in the months when I wasn't maintaining the blog.

What was happening when I wasn't looking? Isn't that essentially all that's ever interesting? What do your loved ones do when you're not together? What's your subconscious doing when you're not looking? What's happening on your blog when you're not writing? What is going on on the other side of the wall right now?

My guess during those months would have been NOTHING. Who reads a blog no one updates? Search engines, that's who. So on what pages did those search engine hits land? Pages about poems and running. And, occasionally, decluttering and zero waste. 

I gave the running page a title that I thought would appeal to search engines: How to Make a Half-Marathon Training Plan. If you've run a half-marathon and you're anything like me, you probably googled that at some point. So, pretty much that's cheating. Likewise with decluttering and zero waste. I didn't try to make them come up in searches, but they're popular topics and I'm sure some people (even occasionally me) go beyond the first page of the results their searches dredge up. 

That leaves us with the poem results, consistently toward the top of the list. I don't remember where exactly, but I recall thinking my week 5 "read a poem every day and write about it" challenge was one of my least popular - in terms of page clicks, comments, everything. But it was also one that got a lot of responses from readers via email, usually to recommend favorite poems I might consider writing about. We are poetry readers in hiding, it seems. 

Two notable things came from this phenomena, besides illuminating the disparity between my immediate reaction to poetry week and the long-term results:

1) My most popular post is the one about Bring on the Goddamn Cat. Is this poem assigned in classes? Are people searching for the words so they can read it at weddings? Who knows, but it gets hits, regardless of how thoroughly I ignore the blog.  

2) One of the poets, Michael Broder, actually commented on my post about his poem, Last Night. Which is pretty fucking neat. It makes me want to get his latest book of poetry and read and comment on every poem in the book. But we all know I don't have that sort of ... dedication? Follow through? Focus? 

Fuck this broom

Fuck this broom

3) Yeah no. I committed to two. Two is all. 

Time. Time is the thing I am lacking. In an ideal world, I could spend half the day writing and half the day reading. Plus some exercise and meditation. In reality, I work, and not at any of those things. Work sucks up a lot of time (work sucks... hahahah). Even when you don't have to think about work in your non-working hours. Time is time, limited and non-renewable. 

Okay, so no time for that. But also consider this. Basically, I know next to nothing about poetry. I am in no position to read/review poems, individually or in collections. I am not especially well-read in poetry. I'm not an expert on form. All I can bring to poetry is a willingness to hear, see, relate. When I re-read what I wrote about those poems, it seems pretty vapid. 

And maybe that's enough. 

I once had an ill-advised (no one advised it; I found it on my own, and it paid only in free tickets, which is actually pretty great) career as a theater reviewer, despite my best resume points being "at various times dated and/or lived with people actively involved in theater." And once I did props for a show. And I took an acting class, after college, as an actual adult, which, in retrospect, seems pretty damn crazy.

To give you a better idea, after I'd written a review or two, I called a friend to clarify exactly what it was that the director did, because an editor wanted me to talk more about that and I had no idea. 

I could not define the role of a theater director. 

And I was reviewing theater. 

Sorry, world. Sometimes you think you have impostor syndrome but then it turns out you are actually not the real thing. 

However, many of the people involved in the shows I reviewed genuinely seemed to like my reviews. I tended to talk more about what I liked than what I didn't. I talked about what worked, or the effect of various choices (ahem, not the director's choices), without judgement. My personal stake in the theater world was nothing. I had nothing to lose, nothing to gain, like much of the paying audience. I like theater and actors and sets and lighting and all that shit. I like the magic! I appreciate all the hard work that goes into creating that magic. Even if I don't understand who the wizard is, or what she does. 

I wrote reviews for people like me. 

But poetry? 

Basket case.

Basket case.

The first time I went to a writing conference, Anne Lamott was the key speaker. I wanted to see her speak, but I had no idea what else went on at a writing conference. Turns out you sign up for workshops and lectures and stuff. 

Two things from that conference stick with me today: 

1) I was jealous of the poets. At some point, the poets in the room were asked to stand up. They were very much the minority and and I, a lousy fiction writer, was so envious. I wanted to stand up when they called the poets. Now that I'm older, I see a mixed blessing type thing.

2) I live in a no-man's-land when it comes to lunch. There just aren't many people I want to have lunch with, but I also don't like to have lunch alone. If you've ever been an introvert trying to find that one person in the room with whom you'd really like to dine ... okay, also if you've ever played the lottery. You get it. 



3 :)

So, if your expectations were that no one was reading your blog, then you find out that people were reading your blog, and the main thing they wanted to read about was poetry, which you thought had been a failure, but perhaps as it turns out was not, but regardless you know next to nothing about, THEN WHAT?

You write about poetry? You sort of internet stalk Michael Broder? You find a way to make Bring on the Goddamn Cat a way of life? 

You address it like this. A post few will read. No one will press "like," and fewer still will comment. Who the fuck knows. You write a post addressing the phenomena, insert a few cat pictures, go back to whatever it was you wanted to write about before and hope for the best. But some part of you still wants to know - THEN WHAT?

Bring on the goddamn cat.