Sorry I didn't write yesterday, but I had to get a boy to school for a soccer tournament, and then I had to come home and tie up all of the sunflowers that the rain had bashed to the ground, and then I had to help load some nasty old mouse-smelling items into the back of Tom's truck for a dump run, and then I had to stand around and marvel at the goat barn that Tom is turning back into a garage. If all goes well, this winter I will be parking my car under a roof behind a door that closes. I feel so suburban. Of course, on the plus side there will be no electricity, no automatic door opener, and a long dark slippery downhill walk to the house. At least I will be able to feel like I live in the 1940s.
Little by little, my editing life is becoming more manageable; and it's possible I may be able to begin writing again. Those 1970s Didion essays I've been reading, combined with the Kenyon poems, are leading my mind in various, possibly productive directions; and once I get Beowulf back from my son (he's borrowed it for a school paper), I can return to that project as well. School starts for one boy later this week, for the other the following week. Our household crush 'n' fun will diminish, and the days will get shorter, and the grass will stop growing, and at some point I will be able to open my eyes and look outside the circle again.
In the meantime, I've been thinking about an email I received about the way in which I write about poetry: "You . . . talk about how poetry is baked but never seem to get it out of the oven." The note was from an acquaintance with whom I've had a long and difficult correspondence. It's not a random trolling remark; nonetheless, it was certainly intended as criticism--in particular, of my inability to expound on poetry as philosophy, ideas, concepts, whatever term you prefer. He dislikes my focus on concrete details of language as a centerpiece for discussion; he thinks that true poetic conversation should be more exalted.
I cannot talk that way because I cannot think that way. My mind shuts down, just as it shuts down when anyone starts discussing calculus or Kant. Do I believe those topics are stupid and useless? No. Please, talk about them all you like. Please, discover something wonderful in the process. Please, use your discoveries to enhance your creative and moral life. Please.
But I think there's something terrible in presuming that different thinking is lesser thinking. I spent so many of my early writing years, in my teens and 20s and 30s, weighed down by my non-scholarly "female" mind. I did not want to be a Muse, I did not want to be a Philosopher, I did not want to be an Academic, I did not want to be a Poet. I wanted to make something . . . something rough and round and small and mine.
So what I want to say here is: Please. There is grace in saying, "I don't understand why this matters to you, but I am happy that you are excited."
I promise that I will try to do this for you as well.