Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Past and More Poetry (What Else?)

I had an e-mail from one of those classmate/reunion websites today about one of the girls I went to high school with--Manhattan, KS, High School. It’s been very odd, but after many years of having no contact with anyone I went to high school with, in the past year I’ve wound up back in touch with three of them, two girls in the class before me and a guy from my class who I dated in my junior year. That’s been very interesting, seeing how we’ve all changed with the years. Now, I hear about Jeanie, but not in any way that I can let her know how to contact me. I knew her better than the other two girls since she was in my class and we were in most of the same activities. I find myself wondering how her life has turned out.

I’m probably trying to get away from all the things I need to do. I need to do press releases and a million other things for Tercera Página, the Latino Writers Collective’s third annual reading series—and I will; I’ve just been distracted by writing major grants for LWC and for The Writers Place and other things like that. I also need to decide what poem I’m going to read for Palabra Pura’s Special Edition: “One Poem Festival” at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago. It’s an AWP off-site event that Francisco Aragón is curating.

I’ve talked with wonderful, supportive husband, Ben, about it. He says I have two choices—go with a poem that’s good with audiences or go with an “AWP poem.” I ask, “What’s an AWP poem?” (Can you tell I’m just not sophisticated, even after all these years?) He says, “It’s a poem that gets pulled out to impress people with your literariness.” Well, that makes it easy! I don’t have any of those. I took a different road from that one a long time ago when I decided I wanted my work to be accessible to any reasonably literate reader. So I’ll probably be a bust as far as AWP is concerned. Francisco’s another matter—he has higher standards than that, I believe.

I would really like to read a poem that I think is one of my best, but it’s also one of my longest. I’m not like my friend, Joe, who writes 15-page poems sometimes. Long for me is 3-4 pages. But I have never read this poem because I don’t think long poems go over as well with audiences—it’s too hard to keep it all in your head while you’re listening—and this poem deserves full concentration. So once again, I see, I’ve decided not to read “Considering Oceans.”

I’ve got about 500 poems, so this could be a long process. I’ll put it in my unconscious while I work on Tercera Página, which will run from March 4-May 15 and feature a student performance of a cultural piece with original poetry, drama, dance, and music, Gloria Vando headlining a reading with LWC members, Sandra Cisneros in both a public reading at the Central Library and an event with students at the Plaza Library, all culminating with the launch of the LWC fiction anthology, which is one of those things taking extra time and attention right now.

To work, Linda! Adelante!

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