Genesis

Old poems are where new poems come from.

                                                 ––Jiwon Choi

 

IMG_3125

Genesis

While rummaging through folders of old poems, I found the genesis of a current poem I wrote about my mother, and her diagnosed dementia.  Most of the work that I generate about my mother is not for public consumption, with the exception of the published pieces that hopefully provide a little insight.

This ‘mother’ poem was the spawn of two poems I’d written back when it became clear that there was something wrong with her mental capacity.    Both poems work to piece together bits of what I know and imagine of my mother’s childhood.

 

IMG_3127

Parent One: The Law of Gravity

 

 

She was diagnosed with this affliction back in 2011.   But I suspect that there was something wrong with her way before.  I am certain she had a strain of PTSD that was neither diagnosed nor addressed while I was growing up with her.

Both of my parents had it.  How could they not?  They’d lived through a war, had their family members sent to work camps, killed or drop dead from disease.

IMG_3128

Parent Two:  Knowing This is the End

I probably have it too.  Though I don’t dwell on it too often, it’s good to be aware of one’s fault lines and where they be.  I am not immune.

The poem these two old ones birthed has been published in the current issue, #109, of Hanging Loose Magazine:

…so what I have always known is true––you were a mother made up entirely of memories…

–from You Live in the Space Behind Your Eyes

Incidentally, this issue also features two remarkable poets who I just found out about: Jose Angel Araguz and Carole Bernstein.  They are worth a read.

 

 

 

A Book

In 2017 I published my first book of poems.
one daughter

I’d been sending in my poems to some journals and getting some results.   As you active writers know, sending in poems is a full time job in itself, so I was doing my best to curate the list, keeping in mind where I would like to see my work.  Sure, Poetry and The New Yorker, but I don’t have three extra decades to wait for that to happen.   It’s okay to be practical and realistic:  Painted Bride Quarterly because they  publish Yusef Komunyakaa, one of my favorite poets, and Hanging Loose Press, because one of the first poetry books I’d ever owned was published by them.  It was Paul Violi’s Likewise.   And because both institutions have been around for decades, HL for 50 years and PBQ for almost as many.

After they’d published a handful of my poems, an editor from Hanging Loose emailed to say they’d consider a manuscript for publication if I had one.  Oh, I had one.  I’d been schlepping it around town, editing on the subway and the occasional bar, for some five years.

It was a relief to see my many loose pages gathered and bound into a real book.  I am a creature of book habits and so there was a keen joy in reading my work in book form.  I will admit, I felt validated.  But this relief is fleeting and soon you look to your next fix, dare I say it, a second collection?!

And thanks to PBQ for posting a nice announcement about my book when it first came out:

PBQ