Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Tribes and Poetry and the Focus of a Month

I am feeling that fragmented way that sometimes comes when I travel.  I feel like I need to just sit quietly for a few days and wait for parts of myself to return.  I feel like I need to weave myself back together again.

But my life doesn't give me that kind of time to focus.  I thought about carving a bit of time with an additional day off, but I knew I would need to go to campus for an hour or two, which would stretch to at least half a day.  I'll save the time off for some later point.

As I've traveled, from AWP a month ago to the creativity retreat last week, I've been thinking about tribes, the tribes we choose and the tribes that claim us.  I saw many AWP posts that talked about the ecstasy of being back with one's tribe, but I don't feel that way at AWP.  I'm a different kind of participant, with a very different kind of non-writing job for pay than most people there.  I still have a good time, but it's a much more industrial feel for me--it's not the sigh of relief, the "I'm home again!" feeling for me.

Last week's retreat was that way.  Let me preface by saying that I don't always feel that way.  I've been coming to this retreat since 2003, and I'm not sure why some years it's easy to settle in to the retreat rhythm and some years I never capture it.  This year I felt like I knew fewer people (in part, because we had a larger crowd with more new people), yet surprisingly, I had that return to the tribe feeling.

I don't have many areas of my life when I'm surrounded by people who are interested in the intersections of creativity and spirituality; in fact, this retreat might be the only place where I am in a larger group of those kinds of people.  There are a few at my local church, but at the retreat, I'm with 70+ people who are.  And we're interested in a wide variety of creative expressions.  It's exhilarating.

It does take me away from poetry writing, which is strange since the retreat almost always happens during National Poetry Month.  But it's great to be distracted by a retreat, not by the drudgery of administrative work.

Let me resolve to seize some time this week-end to do some writing/capturing of insights from the retreat.  As my online classes come to an end, let me also try to get back on track with my creative writing.  I feel like I can't even see the track anymore, much less get back on it.  But I know that I often feel that way at the crushing end of each semester of online teaching.

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