Wednesday, September 7, 2011

It occurred to me that I feel extremely alienated from the "writing community" at-large and I'm not so sure if this a newer development or something I've felt for a long time. There's always been this lingering sense of certain people only being interested in what I can do for them, or others taking advantage and not appreciating (or respecting) what I do or something like that. In reality that is probably a minority. Most writers have been rather gracious and generous, but that minority sometimes sticks in my heart. It's always had more power than it should. I've spent a long time trying to figure out the ways how I fuel that power. This BlazeVox business is maddening. In many ways it has nothing to do with me. I never published with them, I don't know the editor personally--yet some of the comments just bring up all kinds of painful feelings, especially when they're directed at poetry publishers in general. So I am still part of the community, else I wouldn't care, right? Or is this pain coming from being the outsider? Most probably wouldn't consider me an outsider. Eh, who doesn't feel like an outsider, right?

I think it's more than all that, much more, but I can't really place my finger on what all that is. Many of my close friends are writers and I'm not alienated from them personally. I can think of several writers who I feel alienated from for a variety of reasons and I keep going back and forth wondering if that plays anything into it. Maybe it does. Maybe it's that heart damage from the minority that isn't healing properly. A year ago (or maybe it was two?, whenever it was when I started this new blog) I was doing daily energy/healing meditations, letting stuff go--I lost a bit of weight in the process, like I was storing up my anger in my ass and hips. I think I'm going to go back to doing that. I think the ass and heart share the same chakra. Yeah, I read that somewhere. My pilates trainer noticed I lost a bunch of weight and asked what I was doing. I told her about the energy exercises and she looked at me like I said I lost it by slaughtering hobos or something totally insane. It made me feel really uncomfortable and I started noticing that I was always really uncomfortable in the loud, cold, hard pilates studio. The constant mindless chitchat, the regular pressure to push oneself even if it didn't feel right. I didn't belong there, but I went because I got "results." A couple weeks later I quit (even though I still had 3 or 4 paid lessons) and returned to yoga. Yoga was so different than I remembered. What used to seem difficult wasn't so much. I probably had pilates to thank for that.

Yesterday I dreamed that I found a doorway in Chris' office into an apartment. There was another door that I hoped connected my own office to the apartment. I had forgotten that our new house had an apartment and I was so excited to realize I had all this additional space. My new house was truly huge and limitless. The previous owner's furniture and other items were still there, so I was deciding what to keep and what to pitch. Then two writers came into our home, one I know in waking life and the second was someone I knew in the dream, but couldn't remember his name. They brought cherry beer (something I'd recently considered buying in a grocery store in a dream the week before). Then tens of young, 20-something writers came into the house. It was like one of those flash mobs, but it was more like a flash party. I said I wasn't uninviting them because I never invited them in the first place, but they could only stay for 30 minutes because I had plans for the evening. At first I was OK with the unscheduled party but then I noticed that the writers were scrawling all over my walls. I yelled that I just paid thousands of dollars on painting. I screamed for them all to leave, threatened them with bodily harm, threw a vase and a lit candle and tried to call the police (I accidentally called the fire department instead). Finally everyone left and my new dream neighbors came into my house to make sure I was OK. They assumed the flash mob members were strangers. I explained that they were writers and I knew 10-15 of them but none of them were invited. My dream neighbors told me not to worry, that they were my community now.

I'm not sure how to interpret this dream. Was it showing that I'm rejecting "new writing" or an actual writing community? But if so, how is it OK to scrawl all over my walls? They were disrespecting me and my home. In waking life I would totally freak if people did that to my home. How am I supposed to work with that? Who are these new dream neighbors? They certainly weren't writers. What is this community embracing me now? Why were these young writers such despicable, disrespectful thugs? Why does interacting with writers have to be so overwhelming?


  1. Reb, I can only comment on part of this because it's early in the morning and I need to get ready for work and there's no place in between to sleep or find sleep. I have been deeply embedded in different poetry communities not of course at the level you have but I always left them in order to find the core of my imagination. In the end I closed my blog and most people who read there are not poets at all and it makes it easier for me it is easier to breathe inside of it and my writing is pushed out of me instead of pushed in. The way I began it as a child except now I have an adult body (physically and of work.) There is such a loneliness to poets isn't there? And a need to draw blood when it isn't going as they had expected. I have been recognizing so many toxic people in my life lately. It's taken all these years as a nice person to realize I don't need to be a nice person to find the poetry in myself.

    Rebecca, 3 headed dog no matter what.

  2. I'm thinking about public perceptions of a poet's work after reading the post, the 'who gets to shape reputations and posterity' stuff.

    And now I'm thinking I need to clean house - my carpets are filthy ...

  3. Thank you, Rebecca.

    Rik, cleaning is good for the soul.

  4. Reading your responses to the BV thing, I couldn't help feeling like you were taking it personally on some level. On behalf of small presses in general? It's true that poetry is hard to sell, but my favorite small presses publish small catalogs so they can really go to bat/town/hell for their authors as need be. Writers have to self-promote, but the writers I know whose presses do nothing by way of promotion are depressed and resentful about it. NTM does a lot. Birds does a lot. I don't know how many books I've sold. I know it's more than 30.

    Your dream is telling. (No-telling? Mo-telling?) I used to get infuriated by ignorant younger writer a lot, then I stopped reading HTML Giant.


  5. Elisa, I probably am taking it personally--actually, I'm definitely taking it personally. I would never do the BV model and wouldn't suggest that anyone else try, but damn, there's a lot of nastiness hurled towards a guy who's what, an inept poetry publisher trying his best to support as many writers as he can. And so many people making claims that they have yet to succeed at themselves. I should probably stop reading HTML Giant too. And a lot of other sites. You're wise beyond your perfume. :)