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Journal, Day Four

By Erin Belieu

I’ve been checking out other blogs this week—trying to get a handle on the genre—it’s come to my attention that poet’s and poetry lovers are a pretty irritated bunch—I’m not saying people don’t have a right to be—but I’ve decided not to read them anymore before I’ve had a cup of coffee and a chance to shore up my attitude for the day—

I’ve also been amazed at the large number of poetry “crush lists” floating around out there—long, vehemently argued threads on poets and their relative “hotness” (turns out that Olena K. Davis and Cate Marvin rule the top of most charts—at least the poetry ether world has good taste it seems).

Strangely, though, every one of these lists is dedicated to women only—okay, maybe that’s not so strange, given the culture at large—but I want to encourage somebody out there to put together one for male poets—that seems fair, yes? If this is a burning topic for the poetry world, then what’s good for the goose, etc

—I’ll add that while my evidence is anecdotal, I think Nick Flynn has a lock on the men’s title (and I’m looking forward to seeing Nick in the tiara…)

I’ve spent the morning trying to finish up a poem—I can’t say it’s going very well. For me, writing a poem is like being in a sci-fi movie where I’m the disposable ensign trying to get into the secret chamber and I have to figure out the alien runes carved into the wall to get the thing open before the green gas asphyxiates me. If I can just figure out where the door is, then I have a chance. I’ve been pumping myself up by reading Tsvetayava’s Collected and Allison Jenks’ work (wonderful poet—you should google her—the poems from Palace Of Bone and the The Lord Is Easy To Please are so weird and intense and spare)—

It’s been hard to concentrate knowing that (as usual) I have x number of minutes before I have to go get Jude. I’ve been thinking maybe I should apply to one of those colonies where you get to disappear for a couple of weeks. I’ve never wanted to do that before—the idea of enforced isolation wigs me out—and friends tell me that they have a lot of rules at those places—can’t make noise between this and that hour—can’t go into certain “spaces” at certain times of the day—as a person who spent a LOT of time in the principal’s office as a kid, this also wigs me out. I assume I’m going to get in trouble. To this day, when someone says, “I need to talk to you” my first impulse is to shout, “I didn’t do it!” and run as fast as I can.

I’m not a woman who knew she wanted to have children (Jude was a surprise), but I wouldn’t trade the experience of being his mom for anything. I almost wrote “of course,” but I get the sad feeling that this isn’t true for everyone. That must be a terrible discovery after the fact. But Jude’s the most joyful, funny person I’ve ever known and I would easily step in front of a bus for him. Having said that, I think I know why Emily Dickinson pretended to be ill and stayed upstairs in her jammies all day. Being a full-time mother-professor-writer (whose job is at some level tied to “producing” poems)—it can be a little discouraging. But, as one of my old boyfriends mom’s used to say (and she was a tough lady from the Missouri Ozarks) “it’s a good life if you don’t give in.” That’s got to be my mantra.

Still, it’d be great if they started a colony where you could just space off all day for a week without the anxiety of having to produce something—I’d definitely apply for that—


Posted in Uncategorized on Thursday, February 16th, 2006 by Erin Belieu.