How is it that I interact with poetry? Everything that I experience is sort of encoded into a sound. That's how I remember, for the most part. Tell me “Katie: Remember X” and I'll do my best to remember it. Write it down and pass me the sheet of paper, though, and I find myself less likely to be able to parrot it back after a somewhat extended period of time. In reading books, I envision the sound of the narrator's voice, often differently than my own voice reading aloud. That said, when I read poems, I first look for elements of sound as I read that I love. After the initial read, I go back and find elements of narrative, which usually links back to the sound elements that I admire most. If I really like the content and the sound, I'll reread the poem several times. We were told for this journal entry to read Lucie Brock-Broido's poetry first– and I will read it, but today is not that day. I want to focus on what I mentioned about sound and memory –
The poem, out of all that I've read for this class and others, that sticks out to me best in these terms was “Leaving Angelo.” I loved reading that one out loud the last time I took Poetry III – and to be honest, it was probably the first experience I had where I felt comfortable (as in, not as incredibly nervous) to speak/read in class. The way the words and repetition were used to create sound that related to content was masterful. It was with this poem that I decided I would have to focus more on how sound is an essential building block for poetry. It wasn't long after this that I fell in love with slant and near rhymes – and, as they say, a monster was created.
I wouldn't trade it for the world though. To be honest, before Poetry II, I wouldn't have thought myself much of a poet. I didn't read poetry. I didn't write it with the intent that it would be read by anyone. I didn't think that one day, two poems that I wrote would be published in the school's literary journal. I certainly didn't think that on the same day, I would then read one of them in River's End Bookstore. In front of everyone, hands shaking, curls escaping from my hair tie, but feet flat on the ground, feigning confidence. I was terrified, but according to the video that was captured of me by a dear friend, my voice was – for once – steady.
So, all of this – this adds to how and why I approach poetry. I read it because, like me, these authors started somewhere. They may have felt small, maybe felt nervous. Maybe at first thought there was no possible way that they could ever consider themselves poets. So I read. Not just because I must, but because that's how their voice is heard. In the way they write, in what they choose to publish. Word choice and the sound those words make in my mind either stick, or they don't. But the point is, the author was trying to tell me something – maybe in hopes I'd learn. Maybe in hopes their efforts were never in vain. I keep telling myself that one day, I'll be in their shoes. I keep reading, hoping that one day there will be an equivocation, and my work will never have been in vain. That my words are heard in the mind of some struggling college student, and mean something.
Last week's Rhapsodomancy reading consisted of quite a number of stanzas and quite a revelation for me. Looking back at what I've written in the past week – poetry wise, of course, midterm-panic-mode aside, have indeed been inspired by heartbreak and moving past it. I don't think I'm at a level where my poetry can be considered serious. I leave too many of my own emotions on the page so that sometimes, if I figure a way to read objectively, it feels awash with drama and needs to be toned down a bit. But I'm trying and am constantly inspired to keep trying.
The first poem I wrote on this subject matter was on the train home from Maine. Once I hit Penn Station in New York City, I was in the sort of emotional mode where the heart-breaker is the villain and all you want to do is curse them and their entire lineage for their absurdly stupid and obviously shortsighted and shallow behavior. For Yule, he had given me a little moleskine notebook with artwork from Tolkien's “The Hobbit.” As I flip back through the pages, I see the drama seeping out of the words until the poems are more about moving forward, than being hurt and angry. It won't be perfect, because a poem isn't ever really “finished.” But I'm trying to drain the dramatic language and pick words that are intense, but not so overwhelming – and this correlates to my own way of viewing the situation at hand, anyway. I'm not one to depend on anyone, especially not when it comes to my own peace and happiness. Just like Sarah in the movie Labyrinth, all I need to move forward is that one line that's sometimes so hard to remember: “You have no power over me.” That in and of itself may or may not have just sparked another poem.
For this week's Rhapsodomancy, I'm asking: Will I continue to be overwhelmed by school work, and how might I overcome such stress in the coming week?
“Let me tell you about the ego, they say: imagine
pages, loose and scattered, the reader stepping
from one to the next, at times over a great distance,
cobbling together a sequence, the wind revealing
flipsides with graphs or maps, page numbers
The ego is the part of you that fails to notice
are watching.” (Pardi Pg. 45. Poem: Three Meditations)
I was extremely happy to get this reading, because intuition flooded from the verse up to my mind and told me that A.) Of course you will be overwhelmed, this is college for crying out loud. – and B.) Remember that you are human. You fail to see that each page – nay – each word is a stepping stone for your future in moments of stress and anxiety. If you think for one moment that the universe revolves around you, it will remind you quickly enough how it is that things work around here. Birds are watching, after all.
So I would interpret the ego as such: My stress. In moments of being overwhelmed, stress is inevitable. I've been teaching myself to let it go the best I can, because stress is heavy. And as the reading goes, it also very much clouds your judgment – to the point where understanding why things are happening becomes such a challenge (great distance) that we fail to learn anything and have to learn the same life lesson over again until we figure out how to deal with such stress. That's life. Birds here? Well. Birds could be many things – but I'd think that, especially with how my intuitive self picked up this reading – they could symbolize fate or Gods, always watching each step made on the path. Some would call it crazy, but all the things that have happened to me in ten years of Paganism and Witchcraft made it so there's no need to believe in what others call “higher power” or “magic.” I don't need to believe because I know. And while my proof wouldn't count for others, there's no use in trying to convince another. I walk my path, and am allowed mistakes because elsewise there'd not be much to learn in life. This week, due to being overwhelmed, I pushed back my Saturday Divination (Free Tarot, etc readings for folks who follow my Tumblr blog.) At the moment, my main concern is practicing psychic things, and understanding divinatory tools is a big part of that – and so perhaps this decision was made while “failing to notice birds are watching.”
I will reflect on how things go this next coming week – mid-term panic will be over, and maybe then I can give a more cohesive example of how stress affected me and how I may have overcame it – instead of just theorizing.