I'm back from my very successful time at Mepkin Abbey. I got lots of writing work done, although the bulk of the pages produced were journaling. I had planned to rework a manuscript, but it wasn't in as dire need of revision as I thought.
I got an idea for a new way to put together a manuscript. Well, actually, it was a variation on an older idea. A future graduate student might write a dissertation on my poetry by noticing the poems with theological themes, the poems with nuclear themes (and other technology), poems that use apocalyptic imagery (both nuclear and other), and the poetry that has a bit of despair about life in the modern workplace. I've tended to keep those poems separate in the tidy manuscripts.
I plan to assemble a chapbook manuscript that has selections from each category. The theological poems will have a monastic theme for this chapbook, which will contrast in interesting ways with some workplace poems, which will be an interesting counterpoint to some select apocalyptic poems with a nuclear poem thrown in for good measure. I want the separate poems to work as a whole piece that says something about our modern life, but I want it to have an arc that ends in optimism and hope.
Because we only have one laptop, and my spouse needed it for his Board of Trustees meeting (he dropped me off at Mepkin Abbey and drove on to Lutheridge for the meeting), I brought a paper copy of every poem I've ever written. Increasingly, I'm finding that I need access to my electronic database of my poems. Still, it was interesting to sort through poems printed on paper. I still have some manuscript assembly to do, but I know what needs to be done. I need a new manuscript to send to the Concrete Wolf contest, which has a Nov. 30 deadline.
I will probably write several blog posts about what my time with monks teaches me--I feel like I come away with different insights each year. This morning, over at my theology blog, I wrote this post about how the monks need some time for rest.
I tend to think of monks as leading perfectly balanced lives, so I was somewhat shocked to realize that even monks feel a need for down time. I felt a bit comforted to realize that even the monks feel squeezed for time for rest, but a bit appalled that our rush-rush-hurry-hurry modern life has even permeated the monastery walls.
Today I return to my own rush-rush-hurry-hurry schedule, which I will resist as best as I can. By resist, I mean to keep everything in perspective. I need to do some grocery shopping, but I will buy some flowers to brighten these two weeks before Thanksgiving. I am not looking forward to my workplace with its increasingly gloomy mood--this week is our first week without our 22 RIFed colleagues. But I will try to emulate the monks. I will try to be the quiet force of brightness and light. I will try to remember that we have multiple opportunities to do good work, and I will do my best.
And before Friday ends, I will write a poem or two!
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