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poetry slithers from page . . . to path

July 18, 2013

Sometime in late 2011, I started keeping a journal dedicated to (my efforts to write) poetry. On the 1st page, I handwrote affirmations that were certainly inspired by Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way (if not taken directly from it):

  • The things that matter most to me become my poems.

  • My thoughts and imagination move easily into words.

  • As my heart and body open up, my writing improves.

  • I am contributing to my life and to the world with every word I write.

  • I am enjoying solving the puzzles of writing poems.

  • I trust what I write.

The first poem I finished in this book, appearing on the 3rd page, is dated 11.26.2011. The poem on the 2nd page must’ve been written earlier, but it doesn’t seem finished, and it doesn’t have a date.

On the 4rd page, I wrote phrases describing snapshots of important events. All are just one line.

On the 5th & 8th pages, groupings of phrases with repeating sounds: m–m includes “mishmash of marshmallows”; p–p includes “I purloined pasta with pimientos”; b–b includes “baklava and black coffee in a Turkish café”; x–x includes “Huxtables juxtaposed”.

Other pages list words I like. Some, off the top of my head; some, combing through a dictionary.

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The longest poem in here, by far, sprawls over 6 handwritten pages. Its covers a lot of painful ground in my life, but towards the end it veered in quite unexpected directions, and then I couldn’t figure out how to finish it. I didn’t date it, but I remember writing it in December 2011.

Writing about the original painful topic was cathartic, and, I think, healing. But what has stayed with me the longest is a stanza towards the end, after the subject matter changed.

Through putting ideas to paper, in poetry format, I realized for the first time that 4 inter-related relationships of quite long-standing in my life were . . . really problematic, for a lot of reasons that I had never noticed before.

Once these problems entered my conscious awareness, I actively looked for ways to renegotiate the terms between us. That proved to be impossible, and I think the fault was mine: I just could not make the mental leap to think of them differently.

Ultimately I ended our associations in late 2012. In the poetry journal, I then x-ed out the relevant stanza.

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In response to ending those relationships, I wrote 4 lines of poetry, dated 11.12.2012. I guess I’m still not ready to write the whole poem, but these lines — especially the first 2 — seemingly-spontaneously flit through my thoughts every so often. They are relevant, philosophically significant, and possibly metaphysically significant, in ways I had no awareness of when I wrote them. They feel like they could be the truest words I’ve ever written.

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Looking at the 6-page poem now, I see that the very last stanza presages something I only realized in fullness while writing my morning pages just a few hours ago.

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Apparently I began incorporating anagrams into my blog posts in May 2012. They were blog post titles. Then I experimented with picking a longish word or phrase to anagram into phrases or entire sentences. Those phrases or entire sentences often coalesced into a poem right before my eyes.

Next, I chose a set of related words or phrases. While keeping an open mind, I attempted to create anagram phrases that evoked favorite topics. Still, I was often surprised by the results.

I’ve been immersed in imagery I wouldn’t have consciously chosen, springing out of word choices and juxtapositions I would have never consciously made.

These images and juxtapositions and even sounds astonish and awe me with their power and intensity. They’re often more interesting. They often feel more deeply true, more deeply real, than things I have consciously written.

This entire process has enriched my life immeasurably. I’m writing better poems. I’m enjoying writing poems. I’m getting back in touch with sides of myself long suppressed. I’m learning how to live with, and even honor, expressing emotions and ideas that seem out of step with everyone else. Even my process is unusual, because I rarely write from my conscious mind anymore.

Through writing anagram poetry that is often silly or seemingly nonsensical, I’m truly being myself. Out loud and proud.

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When I began this blog in 2009, its tagline was “meandering journeys seeking art, kinship, and community”. Later, “community” became “connections”.

I’ve always used a tag, meandering, to indicate prose blog posts whose subject(s) wander all over the place.

In early 2013, I wrote a poem that not just included the word meandering, but the text in that line physically meandered.

Right around that time, I’d been experimenting with alternatives to my legal first name. Anymore, I could hardly bear to introduce myself to someone new . . . solely because I didn’t have a name to refer to myself as that I actually wanted to answer to.

The first one I chose had the same two syllables as my legal first name, but only shared the same first letter. Still, if someone only heard it without seeing it spelled out, they’d still make the connection to the boy’s name it was derived from.

I pored over name books. I made lists of names I liked. I brainstormed alternative spellings.

And I anagrammed.

Eventually I reached something short but easily pronounced. Something that could very well be a name in its own right, with a slightly unusual spelling. It could also be short for anything that either began with the same 3 letters, or contained those 3 letters (because Anagram).

When I listed words that began with the same 3 letters, I quickly realized a bunch of them were words and concepts that were already personally significant to me. So by going by that name, I could consider it referring to any of them, all of them, or perhaps none of them. That name is delightfully ambiguous. And yet, to someone who doesn’t know me, or anything about my history with names, it just sounds like a normal ordinary name. (An entirely new experience for me.)

In the five months I’ve been using it, no one has ever asked me what my parents were thinking when they named me. No one has told me what my parents “must’ve been thinking” when they named me. My parents have not been mentioned at all. That is a very welcome change.

My new name belongs to me. I chose it, for my own reasons.

And some of it came from that tagline, and that poem.

These days, I go by Mea.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. July 20, 2013 11:16

    Greetings, Mea.

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