Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Parties are over, new year's begun

Must remember to go out and get New Year's cards. It's not premeditated, my sending cards so late, but it's happened for years now. There's just all this other crap to do by a certain date and now, well, theoretically, I have 363 days to write and send them. Okay, I've also been waiting to do a family photo for the cards. With a family of *3* -- now 4 -- and a photographer in the family, you'd think that wouldn't be a problem, but then you don't know how things happen around here. If I'm going to insist on the photos, I may need 363 days ....

It was hard getting up this morning in the dark, hard getting back into my typical weekday routine of throwing on my clothes and taking the dog out, continuing my dreams while I sleepwalk, just as long as I don't get doggie or self run over. But I'm not sorry the holiday routine is over. I'm tired of parties. My body is tired of living on cheese and crackers; I need to get back to my three times a week working out; I have a mountain of laundry, an empty bank account, and anxiety dreams. And I'm all out of small talk.

Yesterday, at a party, a probably very well-meaning person asked me what kind of poetry I wrote. Well, Robert was at the same party and he introduced us as poets. I had to assure the questioner that no, we didn't make our livings writing sonnets. But to the question of kind, I had no answer. Robert started to answer for me, and I didn't agree with his taxonomy. I went off in search of wine to help my answer. But then it seemed easier to avoid the question entirely, to stick to the easier party topics like neighborhoods and schools and college applications -- for which everyone has opinions.

Well, then, hoping that Robert isn't mad at me for copping out, I thought I would post the question here. I'm hoping it's at least a few months before I'm in party mode again and have to have an answer. But what answers do you have for that question (what kind of poetry do you write?)? How much do assume your questioner knows or doesn't know? Do they just want to hear whether you use rhyme? Would you give the same answer to all questioners, or do you tailor it? I often give the short, snotty answer, "my kind." But I know that doesn't mean anything. Is that insulting to the questioner? Tell me what you think!

BTW, I never kept last year's resolution to read through my entire poetry shelves from A-Z. In fact, I never got out of the Bs. So this year, like the perpetual dieter who always swears to lose X number of pounds and can't keep to it, I'm going to generalize my goals. So, I will read more (poetry). And God help me, this year, I'm going to have my book accepted.

4 comments:

Robert said...

Interesting question. I'm not sure how I'd describe my poetry, but I think my poems tend to be ahead of my thinking about them. In other words, without my intending to, my description might describe the poems I was writing five years ago. I think I do the same thing when arranging (or titling) a book. I fear I arrange and title a manuscript in a way that emphasizes the poems I wrote a couple years ago rather than new poems.

Anne said...

I usually say something noncommittal like "uh, free verse stuff mostly" and then if the person seems interested or knowledgeable, I might talk about it more. It can be really hard to talk about poetry with non-poets, but I had a very nice surprise recently when having lunch with a librarian colleague (not a poet) who asked me a few great questions like "how do you know when you're about to write a poem? do you just decide you're going to write one and do it, or do you feel a certain way and that inspires you to sit down and write, or what?" I think talking about the process is almost always more interesting than talking about the end product!

Diane K. Martin said...

Anne, isn't it great when your questioner actually reads poetry though?

Robert, maybe that's one of the reasons why I resist describing mine, I'm just not sure I know, and there's something about fitting them into a tight little box ...

I actually have to go to a friend's art exhibit opening on Saturday. I think if anyone asks me what kind of poetry I write I'll say "grand epics on the human condition." It won't be true, but it will sound good.

louise said...

the only thing possibly more dreaded that the "what kind of poetry do you write?" question, is the well meaning "you should write a poem about that!" comment, usually after telling a story or anecdote or experience, which is always about something that one would never, in a million, trillion years write a poem about...