I've been revising lately, poems, fundraising letters, my life.
I've revised my caffeine intake, but refuse to reduce my chocolate consumption. I think life needs to be enjoyable, I cannot live on sugar-free pies or organic cauliflower. I am not one who feels proud for sacrificing dessert or passing on something I want for fear my cupcake hips will be a little tight in my blue jeans tomorrow.
As for poems, I've returned way back into the files to pull out poems I started a year ago, or longer. When these poems arrive on my screen, it can be like looking at a photo of myself. Maybe I don't remember where I was when it was taken. Maybe I can't quite determine what I was trying to do. This distance helps me determine if this is a poem with possibility. Of course, all poems have possibility, but some more so than others. Some are ready to perform, while others reach for the remote and fall tiredly onto the couch.
I was surprised and not surprised to see I've been writing the same poem for much of the last two years. I am my own Li-Young Lee, writing poem over and over. In my case, while death and loss will sometimes place a part in it, there is also this underlying idea of trying to find balance, trying to find calmness in a chaotic world.
My second manuscript focuses on this idea a lot. How can we stay calm when the world is falling apart? I don't think I have the answer and perhaps, this is why I keep returning to this idea. Through my words and poems, I am searching for it.
I'm always interested in what writers are obsessed about. And many times I think people with obsessive personalities make the best writers and poets because they dig deep into ideas, subjects, stories that others just gloss over.
When I see a child who is obsessed with one toy or one subject such as dinosaurs or butterflies, I wonder if they will grow up to be an artist. Or maybe they are the next scientist in our world. I do believe scientists are poets in their own way, focusing in on the details of one thing.
I have more revising to do, in both my life and in my poems. I don't think I'll ever be done with either one and that is both haunting and comforting to me. But it's good to look at your life and determine what is working. Just as it is to dig back into old poems to see if there's something that surprises you, the "I wrote that?" moment. Sometimes the best future poems come from the poems we have forgotten, the things we let pass.