Some Notes on a poem

Poetry writing for me is often, but not always, an exercise in memorializing an emotion. To do so, it’s imperative to take on the tone and character of the emotion.

In The Blush in My Cheeks is Blood, the poem lives in the body. Creative energy and sexual energy occupy the same sphere inside of me so the ritual of poetry writing and the ritual of self-fucking are one and the same. I often dictate poems while masturbating and I dictated large parts of my novel, Dropping Out this way too. Writing isn’t inherently sexual for me but it is deeply erotic in the sense of moving energy and passing intensity through the body.

In the poem I Miss You, I channel my most pathetic feelings about longing for a relationship that has changed, for a person who I want to be closer with. The title is self explanatory but the imagery is an attempt at shape shifting this feeling to overcomplicate it visually until it takes on the size and mental texture of missing someone. These grand emotions are often exaggerated in poetry until they feel as big as they are. I suppose in this way poetry is a lie, a stretch of a simple phrase like “I miss you” into a mess of metaphor and syntax that personifies the act of missing until it’s a pathetic character outside of the poem, rapping on the eyes of whoever is reading it.

In a recent poem I wrote, You Lost Me, I use oceanographic terminology to interweave scientific objectivity with the atemporal experiences of loss and yearning, absence and acceptance. The processes of the sea are transient, from the intertidal zone and its multitudinous interconnected ecosystems to the deep sea with its cosmic sediment and alien-like bioluminescent, chemosynthetic lifeforms. Studying oceanography and marine science brings me repeatedly back to the experience of being human. The world is constantly imitating itself and reminding us that we are not self-sufficient nor independent. Our existence relies on structures and processes that are beyond our reasoning or comprehension.

Poetry writing is completely different for me than novel writing. When I write a poem I go into a trance, before I write a poem I feel “symptoms” come on. They’re uncomfortable, often painful and usually scary. It’s as though I’m possessed by an idea I can’t name and I won’t feel grounded again until it’s effectively used me as its medium.

The writing of Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath have influenced me immensely. Confessional writing has been profoundly life saving for me. It’s a radical act to say “this is how I fucking feel and I know it’s ugly, and I’m not sorry” especially in a landscape that wants feminine docility and silence, and views madness as an ugly secret; a thing to be eliminated.

The subtext of all my poems: fuck that.

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