Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Poet and Other Identities

This morning, I woke up with a vague fear of abandoning my poet self. I thought about how I would feel 20 years in the future, if I stopped writing poetry, stopped submitting poetry. And then I wondered what led to this early morning quasi-panic.

I feel like I haven't been writing poetry, but that's not strictly true. In April, I did a lot with poetry for my seminary class project.  I've been continuing to experiment with my collection of abandoned yet evocative lines. I can't write the way I once did because I have a broken wrist--or to be more accurate a wrist in a cast which limits my use of my dominant hand. 

I've had time periods before when I didn't write. I'm thinking of the summer of 1996 where I wrote exactly one poem. That time was followed by a time of fertile poetry writing. I've had times where I didn't submit much because I got so discouraged or because I was busy. Submitting takes much more time than writing, and it's been a busy time period for me doing other things.  Plus, there's the question of expense. I'm not earning money the way I once was so those submission fees can feel a bit indulgent.

I don't feel the same kind of anxiety when I think about how long it's been since I wrote a short story. Maybe that's because I haven't gotten the same kind of approval for my short stories as I have for my poetry. I used to write novels in my spare time, but I don't feel guilty for wasting my spare time instead of writing novels. I do feel a strange sense of guilt when I think about how long it spends since I wrote a poem or how long it's been since I had a streak where I felt like I had some poetry superpower

I spent some time this morning thinking about the issue of identity. Once I thought of myself as a runner, but it's clear I'm no longer a runner. My blog sites still say that I'm an administrator, but I'm really not. Why haven't I changed that language? I have no intention of going back to being an administrator, at least not in academia, at least not any time soon.  So why this reluctance to change the language that describes me as an administrator?

I think of other types of identity that are tearing the nation apart:  gender, sexual attraction, political affiliations. I think of religious identities that shape a person in deep and abiding ways. I don't spend much time reflecting on these identities and what they mean to me. Is it strange that the writerly identity is the one that wakes me up at night with worries of losing it?

It is good to be reminded of what is important. After I got up, I spent some time working on a poem. And now I can go on about the day, working on my other identities that will emerge this summer:  ex- Floridian, full time seminarian, and . . .

1 comment:

Christine Swint said...

I tend to fret about not writing poetry, too. I’m in a fallow period now, but I put it down to not feeling well physically for the last few months. I’m tending to my garden and walking my dog when it’s not so brutally hot. For now, that will have to be enough. I appreciate reading about your preoccupations. You’re not alone, if that’s any help.