Another poetry manifesto, from “Slow Speaking Lady”

I’ve been bitten by the Shutterfly bug.

Last semester, for my final project in poetry class, we had to make a chapbook.  Being the anti-procrastinator I am (not because I’m so good, but because I’m so forgetful), the day the project was assigned, I started my Life, Inverse chapbook on Shutterfly, and worked on it once a week till it was due.

It wasn’t just a poetry project, but an art project as well.  I also learned a little about graphic design throughout the process.  I had so much fun doing it, I decided to do another, using the book below (one of the required texts for our poetry class) for inspiration.

44551

Growing up in the Deep South, I am far from a “fast-speaking woman,” so I named mine “Slow-Speaking Lady.”

20170624_132630

A screenshot of the cover of the book. I stood in front of a glass door where the sun was shining through and created a silhouette of myself.

With every Shutterfly project, rather than a dedication page, I will include a foreword or manifesto.  The passage below is from this project.

Manifesto

In the spring of my third year of community college, I finally got to take the poetry class I’d been waiting a year for. Though I’d written massive amounts of poetry, I considered myself more poetic than an actual poet. I didn’t feel I had a mind for adult poetry, but rather a heart for children’s poetry (which mostly rhymes). It wasn’t until I took Jamey Jones’s class that my ears were opened to how rhyming can often limit what could be limitless. I also became more aware of the way poetry looked on a page.

I simply became more aware.

I like to say that through my health information technology classes, I learned more about healthcare, but through poetry, I learned about myself.

I became comfortable sharing very personal poetry, when before, I’d always held something back if I had to read aloud. I conquered, at one student poetry reading, my fear of public speaking (at least non-extemporaneously). I quit asking myself “Why?” and began asking “Why not?”

I changed my internal dialogue.

I became more comfortable in my own skin, even though I’ve always felt there was too much of it. I realized if I could be confident in my message, then I wouldn’t feel like I had to look like the perfect messenger.

I had the pleasure of seeing renowned poet Anne Waldman perform one night during that spring semester. Though I’m more of a fan of her than her poetry, I was inspired by her passion, which led me to analyze her work on a deeper level; I discovered a greater appreciation of it, which inspired me to write my own version of an autobiographical narrative in list form (a la Fast Speaking Woman).

Like in Disney’s unanimated version of Cinderella, I learned, when it comes to workshopping, to have courage and be kind. Have courage when reading your work, and be kind to the person whose work you are critiquing.

Poetry class helped me become more aware of poets I wouldn’t have read otherwise. I could only learn so much in one class, but that one class inspired me seek out the work of other poets, and appreciate not just the way it looks and reads, but also the way it sounds. Good teaching, I’ve learned, leads to self-teaching.

I will never stop learning; I will never stop writing.

I will never stop until my heart does, and by then, I will have a million little pieces of myself behind, for writing is the closest thing to immortality on earth.

For more on the inspiration behind this project:

https://sarahleastories.com/2017/04/23/about-myself-and-poetry-what-i-learned-at-an-anne-waldman-workshop/
https://sarahleastories.com/2017/04/23/makeup-on-empty-space-poetry-reading-night/

#Fiction Friday: #Micropoetry from the Book

mormoni

Elder missionaries
moved around like chess pieces.
Mother was the queen,
David the king,
Elder Roberts the knight,
& I, his pawn.

On canvas,
David & I belonged;
on paper,
David would belong to her.
Only through his art
would I stay forever young,
even as Mother grew grey.

My nudity wasn’t of the body,
but of the soul.
David painted what he knew,
rather than what he saw.

His canvas was Dorian Gray’s portrait,
he, Dorian.
Like Jesus, he took upon himself
sins not his own,
but whose origin was unspecified.

I was a marionette,
created by Mother,
controlled by David,
albeit with invisible strings—
a chimera,
with David,
the dominant,
overtaking me.

Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #398: Bug

enhance.jpg

Mom’s Day Off

When Mom had a 24-hour bug,
the dishes did not do themselves,
and neither did the laundry get a bath.
There were sticky fingers & toes,
& a crusty little nose.
Paper was strewn about,
& Daddy had completely
checked out,
for he’d fallen asleep in the recliner
like Rip Van Suburban Dad,
& suffocated under all the toys
Hannah Banana Boo had ever had.

http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/wednesday-poetry-prompts-398

#Micropoetry Monday: Love Story

salt-lake-city-1241661_960_720.jpg

He worked a dirty job,
she worked in sterility,
but his virility
overcame her infertility.

He married her for her beauty,
she married him for money,
but when he became handsome,
& she became rich,
they were happier with themselves.

To marry in the temple
would be to leave her father & mother
& cleave unto the faith of her husband.
She chose not the latter,
but the former,
& in doing so,
she was able to cleave unto the man
whose faith mirrored hers.

She grew up,
always wanted,
but never needed;
he matured,
always needed,
but never wanted.

She’d loved them both, & when one had died,
the other had become greater in her mind,
for he had died at the height of his perfection–
the peak of his valor–
so that no man in life could ever overcome
the shadow of his death.

#Fiction Friday: #Novelines from the Book

mormoni

We sat around playing board games: Mother, the rest of us, & the elders. We were like a real family, the elders our brothers.

I suddenly found myself longing for the kind of chaos that seemed to come with the big families that made up the Johnson & Roberts households.

My little family was close, but not so impressive, for I was 1 of 2, not 1 of 4, or 1 of more. The Mormons made me want more.

And it was when I looked at Elder Roberts, & he looked at me, that I felt I had already found what I hadn’t known I was looking for.

I’d walked through the valley of the shadow of someone else’s death for too long. I was ready to live for the living, to worship life, to worship the creation, if not the Creator.

“I can believe in anything, Laurie, as long it means we’ll be together,” he said, holding her at arm’s length. “My God will be your God.”

David’s presence had cast out the shadow Patrick’s absence had cast over us.

It had taken David’s leap of faith—David, whose blood did not flow through mine—& not my own mother’s, to get me to commit to baptism.

I took one of their hands in each of mine—a prophecy—for where I connected them to me, I separated them from one another.

The sun ceased to shine, shrouding us in darkness. David’s eyes glowed, penetrating me, for he knew my heart was still true to him & all that he did not believe.

Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #397: Land of (Blank)

If a New York minute is thirty seconds, then a Southern minute is ninety.
–from “Poplar Bluff: A Memoir”

kars.jpg

The Land of Dixie

Selling their messages on street corners are
Bible-bashers, cardboard-carrying hobos,
and dancing people wearing sandwich signs,
while cars plastered with Bible quotes
or slapped with a COEXIST bumper sticker,
coexist on the streets,
passing the temples of capitalism,
the cross-bearing churches that
capitalize on the guilty man’s soul,
seeking deep, silver-lined pockets.

The rapture’s coming soon for some
in this land of Deep South Protestantism,
where hearts are blest,
where everyone’s either saved or going to hell,
or just plain don’t know what the hell’s going on.

Pensacola Beach is the jewel,
set in fool’s gold turning green,
with its sand like ground pearls,
water vacillating between
emeralds and sapphires,
and homes the color of Jordan almonds.
The flip-flap-flopping of their footwear is their answer
to Australia’s slip-slap-slopping,
beating a rapid tattoo on the boardwalk.

Such paradise is everyone’s playground,
home to the earthly blest,
where few transplants are rejected,
their organs pumping the lifeblood
into the economy,
for which the tourists are both
donors and recipients.

I look around at my side of town,
at the heat waves shimmering off the asphalt,
the mud-filled potholes,
the never-ending road work;
I still see conflict and war,
deconstruction alongside reconstruction—
a rebirth of conservative nationalism.

I am home.

Note: Slip-slap-slop is a real thing: http://www.sunsmart.com.au/tools/videos/past-tv-campaigns/slip-slop-slap-original-sunsmart-campaign.html

http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/wednesday-poetry-prompts-397

For more on Pensacola:

https://sarahleastories.com/2014/02/19/daily-prompt-west-end-girls-2/
https://sarahleastories.com/2015/04/10/poem-a-day-writers-digest-challenge-9-theme-work/
https://sarahleastories.com/2016/11/23/poem-a-day-writers-digest-challenge-23-theme-when-blank/

#Micropoetry Mondays: Childhood Memories

girl-354579_960_720

She’d fallen in love with Amy’s childhood,
& so she shared the memories as if they were her own,
& in so doing, she became what Amy might have been.

The stories they told, no one believed,
because what they saw through their limited prisms,
they could explain in the way only children can—
in innocence, the guilt of the adults around them.

Every year, her parents had Photoshopped
an age-progressed picture of her abducted brother,
so that when she crossed his path many years hence,
she knew, with startling clarity,
the man he had become,
the man who would take her life.

She learned “once upon a time”
& “happily ever after” from stories,
& everything in between from the lives
she lived through those stories.

Mr. Bob had been her imaginary friend.
When she came upon the grown-up version of him,
she knew he’d been very real to her mother.