What Was Asked of Me

March 5, 2010

They asked me how I organized my book, what am I reading, how do I balance mothering and writing. One asked about the syntax of my poems. They thought I had answers.

I was back in Iowa. Back to the expanse of white and at the end of 80 days of snow coverage. The deer stood hungry on the hills. The car crept past the muffler factory.

1. There is no balance. Everything comes at once. Stay present to what’s around you.

2. What am I reading? This is the perfect question to wipe my brain clean as a clean chalkboard. I should use this question on myself when I want peace and complete emptiness of mind. I have read The Anthologist by Nicholson Baker. He mentions living poets by name in a novel. That seems to break a rule. I don’t know which rule. But good for him. I read Ignore Everybody by a man who doodles on business cards for a living. I read the Drake University student magazine (it’s well designed) and read of Guerilla Gardeners who plant flowers on public property in the middle of the night. Planting a flower on public property without permission is technically a crime. I do not know if these gardeners ever doodle. I read of someone shooting people at the Pentagon. I read Elizabeth Bishop and Sylvia Plath. I read about Vitamin D in Nutrition Action Newsletter.

3. I organized my book by instinct. One could say it’s geographically organized. One could say whatever they would like. One could say it’s not organized at all.

4. I go by feel. I learn rules. I forget them. I mess the rules up. The wrong words fire from my brain, and I write anyway. I revise.

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