Disruptive Juxtaposition

Friday, May 13, 2005

God Save Donald Duck, Vaudeville and Variety

The Kinks, where have you been all my life?

Wrote a poem titled "Miracle Bubbles" this late morning, the titular bubbles being those bubbles that come in a cheap plastic yellow, red, or turquoise bottle, which you blow into being from a tiny wand, and soon your hands are sticky with soap and you get a head rush from so much outrushing of your breath, the more so when you're eight. I'd be the last one to deny that it's a mess, but its voice is exactly the voice I've been struggling to maintain over the last few days of slushing through student work, coughing, coughing, not writing, and surveying my MFA-less future. How can I define this voice? Well, it's bound up in a whole lexicon of graduate student words I don't feel like using here, because I realized this morning in the midst of teaching an Gloria Steinem essay on advertising in women's magazines that the students didn't understand my question. For example, one lad was heard to say, "I don't understand your question." I suspect that this happens more often than I'm wont to admit. Not that I'm thinking on a hugely further level than my students are; hardly. They're all bright in their own ways. Rather, I might take such occurences and wonder if indeed I know exactly what I'm saying myself, and what question I'm posing. Brevity being a virtue and all that.

This tangent is beside the point, the point being as I reread the first few meandering lines of this post the nature of this "voice." And I think that the easiest way to sum it up is that it strives for a momentum via an extended syntax, an intact sentence structure, and a linguistic variety. In terms of subject matter, the personal and the public appear in equal measure. The "I" probably waxes nostalgic and philosophical riffs might be heard; Donald Duck, vaudeville, china cups and virginity may make cameos. But am I really talking about "voice" anymore, however? "Voice" seems like an increasingly blurred term whenever I try to define it, much less my own, and I wonder how useful a term it is. How to tell the dancer from the dance, and all that (Yeats).

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Ac-cent-tchu-ate the positive

I'm not sick enough that I can't blog.

I've complained to friends old and new about this new problem of graduation, which is not a singular plane of a problem, but rather has numerous facets. The obvious include moving and finding work. The more unexpected have to do with the impending absence of poetry-related deadlines. The exam went off with nary a hitch - wonderful! - and my advisor's said that he'll sign off on the thesis without hesitation - phew! - and then in four weeks I'll have no one asking to see work on a regular basis.

The common rejoinder is that programs such as this one intend among other things to instill a sense of diligence and routine to the apprentice's work habits, that programs are launching pads for the long flight of life after MFA-ery. And I had that routine coming into MFA-ery. I'll have it when I leave, and on into the noon and sundown and twilight of my life, etc.

So what's the problem? This is an actual question: I don't know the answer. I suppose it's to do with the brand of diligence, the degree of routine, that this impending post-launch-pad period of life is going to require. Am I going to be regular enough in the writing, in the writing well, to accomplish what I want to accomplish - which in the final analysis is nothing more simple and impossible than good poems? Am I going to be diligent enough in revision and submission? I'd have thought that other questions would be consuming my thinking in these weeks, practical matters such as "Where is my next paycheck coming from?" That hasn't been the case at all. I suppose that's a bright spot.