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17 October, 2007

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"What's it like, having a poet for a father?"

I’ve never had an answer for that question.

I don't know. What's it like to have your father for a father? Ask me what it’s like to breath air, to wear skin.

It was wonderful. It was terrible. It was all I ever knew.


I suppose some writers settle on a destination, strike out, and arrive precisely according to map and timetable.

I guess I'm not one of them.

A couple of months after coming back from the Ireland tour, a number of my essays from Notes to Self were picked up by the mother of all women's magazines. The Toronto Globe and Mail featured guest commentary from me for the second time this year. Things have been happening. Not as often or as consistently as I would like, but doors are opening to me on the prose front, and while I may not be much good at sticking to maps, I do have enough sense to walk through open doors.

I am hoping they eventually lead to a comfortable room where the bills are paid and I don't need to do anything else but write while the kids are in school. A column or a book deal. That's a fairly far-fetched notion, but not astronomically out of reach. So for the past six months, I've been pouring my energy into the vehicle that seems to have the greatest likelihood of taking me there, my prose.

Don't count me out yet, but it's possible that the Yale Younger Poets program (see sidebar) may have to soldier on without me (oh well, I was going to have to become a U.S. citizen to enter, anyway, and the contest regulations are daunting enough without bringing the INS into it).

Creativity is energy, and bound to the law of conservation. Nothing gets lost. While I haven't been writing poems recently, more and more poetry has been seeping into my prose. I began to notice that certain compositions of mine, both on- and offline were written in a very distinct voice, one that would be more familiar to my readers here, than at Notes. I also noticed that these pieces seemed to be excerpts of something, although I didn't know what.

About a month ago, I realized I was working on a memoir of my relationship with my father. It wasn't a decision; it was a revelation. In a second, I knew the title, the themes, the tone, and (very loosely) the structure. I was literally dizzy with it. I began pulling these "excerpts" together into one document, and saw that I actually began writing this book here, on this blog.

Again and again, I would sit down to write about my poetry, and find myself needing to talk about my father, about the disentangling of my voice from his, about the burden of his personal mythology as an artist, about my subversive and misdirected attempts to break into the fraternity of male artists that seemed to be the organizing principle around which my girlhood was centered, about my dangerous addiction to the role of muse.

About growing up as, and away from, the poet's daughter. About growing toward myself.

I thought these recollections and reflections would just be asides, background color. I didn't want to make it all about him. But there's a story in front of me, an open door, and I need to walk through.

4 Comments:

Blogger bluebird of paradise said...

bon voyage! on a wonderful exciting,daring ,courageous expedition.
to the 100 acre woods and beyond............

8:43 PM  
Blogger Brian Carpenter said...

Hi I am trying to Erradicate Sudden Infant Death by using ART and Rocks.
Can you please help me get the word out to as many artists and people as possible. by
posting a link or by blogging about my blog? Maybe even doing a Blog Interview

Look at http://kicksids.blogspot.com/

Thank you very much
Brian Carpenter

1:00 PM  
Blogger Godless Sunday said...

WOW, Sounds wonderful. I want to read it all now.

10:30 PM  
Anonymous Tim Clarke said...

I listened to you read this excerpt at the April Rabbit, and I decided it was worth finding more. You have a sensitive, poetic prose style, and it was a pleasure to share the stage with you.

Thanks for coming,
Tim

4:04 PM  

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