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(re)visioning stresses

November 30, 2014

How can I feel menaced by a color scheme?

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I withdrew from critiquing my friend’s story, and they seem okay with it. Big relief.

I withdrew my poem from consideration. I’ve not yet received a response.

I did go to the store Saturday to get a big mailing envelope, preparing to send the book back, but now I’m feeling undecided about doing the book review. So it may happen.

I returned a big set of books to the public library. Including a hold request that had just come in — I checked it out, stood there reading it (it was short), and then returned it. I came home with an empty library bag (orange, as it happens), and it felt good to give myself that spaciousness.

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I changed my Twitter avi, banner photo, and blurb. It’s all very orange, which I am deliberately refusing to analyze. All I know is that I need to be orange right now, so I’m orange.

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Lemon ice cream with blueberry swirls is my new favorite treat. I wish it was slightly more practical as a snack.

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Cento 3 (which is now also Cento 11) ~ if its appeal comes from the title itself, which was a gift from my unconscious mind… Sometimes I’ve found an amazing title for a poem (and it’s never the first version of the title; more like the third or fifth or seventh version), and I gradually realize that the title needs a poem that’s a better fit for it. So I take the title away from the poem, and write a different poem for it. (Alas, that means the original poem lacks a title, again.)

This particular poem title references a character that does not obviously appear in the poem. Maybe they should, which is how I tried to revise it. I don’t think it entirely succeeded. In any case, maybe the title needs a different poem entirely.

Why use an amazing title for a poem that itself doesn’t contain any of my own words?!?

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Tangentially, realized Saturday that the request by the editors to revise my poem somehow felt entangled with the 2 paintings I did as a kid that my painting teacher inserted her own elements into, against my will, ruining my paintings. Every time I looked at the paintings, I felt violated and angry all over again. As an adult, I finally threw them out (!) because I couldn’t stand the agony of looking at how they were destroyed. It was like they became tangible and visible reminders of being raped (long before I had been physically raped).

My words have been edited by others unproblematically before. Editing itself isn’t the issue, nor is it, I don’t think, the suggestion to revise. It’s that . . . I needed to realize for myself that it should be edited/revised.

I would have preferred that they reject it, than that they tell me that it could be accepted if I reimagined it. Cento 3 was only 3 stanzas; Cento 11 is 5 stanzas.

I revise and remix my poems all the time, but that’s my judgment call. Once I put them out into the world, it seems like they should be rejected or accepted as they (substantially) are.

But maybe the bigger concern comes back to . . . only the title is my own words. I contain multitudes — I am more than my work, but the vision I originally had came up with the form of Cento 3.

I feel so conflicted about this, and I don’t know how to make sense of the jumble of my feelings.

I feel something akin to the earlier violations (my paintings). I feel angry and hurt. I feel confused.

Other people have suggested that I should feel happy or excited, but I definitely don’t feel either of those emotions.

Say I’d allowed Cento 11 to go forward. Say the editors liked it enough to agree to publish it. That would be my first published poem. Except it’s not my words, and I revised it trying to please other people, rather than myself foremost.

So, like my ruined paintings, every time I looked at the poem, or even thought about it, it would be under the circumstances of . . . my vision has been interfered with, enough that I can’t say with certainty it feels like my own poem anymore. I’m normally very pro-hybrid, but in this sort of instance, in art, my stuff needs to be all my stuff.

(Unless I knew from the onset I was collaborating with other people. That’s not so here, nor with my paintings.)

I just remembered. . . something like this happened in a weaving class I took years ago. The instructor no doubt thought she was helping me “create something beautiful”, which to her meant something patterned regularly. But to me, “patterned regularly” not only =/= “beautiful”, but it’s an abomination to my aesthetic.

Every time I looked at the piece (which was orange), I saw that it didn’t look at all like I made it: it didn’t reflect my sensibilities. I eventually threw it away too.

The stuff I make is beautiful to me if it “works”, uses its materials wisely, and reflects me +/- accurately.

The stuff I make often seems beautiful to others only if it’s somehow predictable, and reflects their worldview +/- accurately. These approaches are not compatible.

I don’t think I’m yet skilled enough in poetry writing craft to convey deftly what I’m trying to convey (deftly). I’m still blundering around awkwardly. But my skills do not improve if someone else “corrects” me. All I learn from that is to hate my own mutilated piece, and by extension, to hate the person who mutilated it. (And, in the case of my paintings, the person who didn’t understand why I was so upset. The person who approved of what was done to me/my art. My mother.)

I and my art are beautiful when we are whole and intact and ourselves.

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