Yesterday I went to a harvest festival event on campus--it was primarily for those of us living here, and I did have a chance to meet and talk to some students I had only seen from a distance, plus there was lunch. Over a never-ending bowl of kale harvest salad, I answered questions, like why I chose a Methodist seminary over a Lutheran one.
I answered that this seminary is one of few that has a track in Theology and the Arts, and one student asked what kind of art I do. I said, "I'm a poet, and I do visual arts and fiber arts."
She asked, "What kind of poems do you write?"
I tried to keep my answer simple, but I fumbled a bit at first. "Well, I don't write formal poems. I'm not concerned about iambs." Then I shifted: "I want to write a poem about an autumn leaf that will make you look at autumn leaves in a new way, that you'll think about this new way of looking at a leaf any time in the future that you see one."
And then I asked questions about them, the way I have been trained to do. But I continued to think about my answer. The mean voice in my brain broke in periodically to remind me of how long it's been since I've written a poem and how dare I even think of myself as a poet.
This morning, I resolved to finish a draft I started in the last week. I have been continuing to work with abandoned lines, and last week, I wrote a few lines to go with one that I took from my master list. And this morning, that draft is gone. I had a computer issue earlier this week where the computer stopped saving my written work--at least, I think that's what happened. I had done a Save As for several documents, and those got saved as the earlier document. This morning, I discovered the empty page instead of the rough draft of my poem.
Unlike with my academic work, I didn't e-mail drafts to myself as I went along. I can probably reconstruct the lines, but part of me gives in to the mean voice and wonders why I even bother anymore.
Let me remember that I've had to get a lot--A LOT--of academic writing done this week. Let me remember that I had a whole summer of healing from a broken wrist while getting ready to do a move across 4 states.
But let me also resolve to return to poetry. I'd like to write a poem or two or three each week. I'd like to send out some poem submissions each week, although if I've got a lot of seminary work due, I don't mind letting go of the submission part. But I do want to keep writing poems, even if I'm not getting them published. I do want to have a reason to keep thinking of myself as a poet.