Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Getting back to poetry

I had first-book-itus. The condition whereby one realizes the heroic fanfare of writing and getting a book published is closely followed by the equally deflating sound of it falling noiselessly into the forest of almost no reviews and as yet no second print run. This led to a writing slump.

But at some point I just had to say, yeah, I'm no Billy Collins, or would that be Billie-Jean Collins? His name is a household name, my name is known in my household. My book is not likely to spark the poetry dialogue in this country, impress any Russian poetry masters, or even make it to more than one or two college classrooms... but what matters most is still there, I have the beginnings of poems bubbling up inside of me. I write them down. I'm rereading Shakespeare's sonnets and Kay Ryan and Barbara Hamby and enjoying the incredibly different ways they say "I am paying attention." With wit, lust, precision, patter, and ears attuned to the smallest and largest things. Shakespeare gazes into his lover's eye and riffs on his own reflection. Ryan imagines life is like having your living room be on a raft slowly heading down river enjoying the view on the way to the Niagara Falls, Hamby manages to address "you" in every poem and still makes it immediate and full of the rich tumble of her revved up inner chatter.

I had a rock tumbler as a kid, I put in craggy stones, it churned away in the basement for weeks, I'd change the grit that went in to ever finer sand, and then a rich glitter of polished sediments was revealed. Right now I'm still finding the fistful of stones.

There is a (writing) life after the first book. And someone just asked to "friend" me on facebook by asking if I was The Claudia Carlson that wrote that Elephant House book. Yes, yes I am.


Joseph Hayes said...

Yes, you are THE C.C.!

Matthew Thorburn said...

Sounds like you've got just the right frame of mind here, CC. I remember that feeling of coming down, once the dust settles on the first book.

But isn't it a great feeling to get back to the writing and working on new poems? (And a great feeling too once the second book manuscript starts to take shape!)