Some time ago I mentioned that I undertook a challenge to write a poem every day (weekends off) for as long as I could. I did this because I wanted to improve my ability to choose just the right words, and use them in unexpected ways, in my writing. Since creating poetry is like weight lifting for the writer, causing her to focus on form and the tiniest decisions, I decided it was worth the effort.
Six months later, I’ve written a hundred poems. They are not seasoned or breath-taking. They are attempts. But I’m celebrating, regardless of their merit, because six months ago, I had written all of five poems, and showed them only to my children. There is something to be said for putting one foot in front of the other, of being brave enough to allow oneself simply to be a novice.
This is my celebration.
My kids got an up close taste of death yesterday.
It’s not like they didn’t know it existed before this. We’d seen the lifeless body of a woman floating face down in the river in Nepal once. We’d watched bodies on biers move past us on their way to funeral pyres in India. We’d passed dog carcasses wearing blankets of flies, the smell of them slapping us in the face as we walked to a friend’s flat.
And in the US we’ve been to funerals, stared into open caskets at faces that don’t look asleep.
We’ve had to peel our beloved dog off the road and bury her before her time.
But yesterday was different. It was a shock and, though it’s something that happens every day in the world, it reminds us that we aren’t home yet.
I’ve decided to embark on a (mostly) fun literary challenge in which I write a poem every day, five days a week, for as long as I can last. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for sometime now, but it means that I’ll only be able to show up here maybe once a week? After all, I’m still working on the first draft of a second novel, and it takes discipline to stay on track there, too.
In the meantime, I’ll check in, but it just won’t be as often.
P.S. I’ve opened up another site for these poems but I’m going by another name for now because–chicken. If you’d like to visit (though everything is still in its infancy stage) you can here.