Rebecca Mabanglo-Mayor has a good post regarding the actual creative writing that occurs on the blog, as well as the substantive conversations that occur in blog and as a result of blog. I have only seen Bec in person once, when she flew into San Francisco to read for Achiote Press a couple of years back, for the chapbook issue featuring me, her, and Rich Villar. I do have to say that despite having only once spent face to face time, she and I have had some very good discussions about poetics, storytelling, and indigeneity. It was via her blog that I learned about her Tao Po! workshop, hence rounding out my Diwata manuscript’s final revisions.
Anyway, on to my point. I’m also glad to have been blogging my poem drafts here, gradually refining these, and talking out the different series I have been writing. It’s always comforting to know I am being productive. I hate the feeling of not being able to write a poem, and/or I hate suspecting that I am not writing enough poetry, even though, as Pat Rosal said in his recent Culturebot interview, “Poetry and all its affiliated efforts are my work.” This is reassuring, knowing that I do indeed engage in these “affiliated efforts” of reading, performing, hearing and seeing other authors read and perform. Still, I need to be writing poems.
(By the way, I ultimately take down many of these poems when I start submitting them to journals.)
As well, I am glad to have talked myself through this last round of revisions for Diwata. I really did think revision was going to be painful, which is why I’d procrastinated as awfully as I had. I’d open the Word file and scroll through the pages, then I’d wince at some places, then I’d close the Word file. Painful, this second guessing, but having articulated the wince worthy parts of the manuscript here made it not so bad at all. That is, I gradually figured out what about those wince worthy parts were so wince worthy, why, and then most importantly, how to go about making changes in those specific places, how the changes helped the shape or arc of the manuscript be what I envisioned or wanted for it.
Finally, Bec writes that all of these great conversations, she wonders how to capture in creative work, to which I have responded that the substance of our conversations about poetics, storytelling, and indigeneity does work its way in our creative writing, in how we define our projects, and what we write in our poems. I don’t think it’s particularly poetic to state explicitly in a poem, “My ancestors’ stories inform my stories,” or “The stories of the land I occupy inform my stories.” These statements are fine in process essays, but when stated in a poem, don’t do a poem justice. I do think these messages are the meat of Diwata, with each poem reflecting or demonstrating my poetic speaker’s imagined connection to her ancestors’ stories, and to the stories of the occupied land which is her home.