Received a very dear email today

From a poet who didn’t believe in herself. I replied. Maybe that reply can help or inspire you, too.

Let me tell you a few ideas I have about developing your poetry – first, it can be hard just to make the *time* to do it!  Do you have a regular Poetry Moment in your daily routine?  For serious simply keeping doing it is the best way to get where you want to be with your writing.

I do have a cute little informal, free, made of real people writing drop-in group on line.  If you’d ever like to drop in, please do.  The links and schedule for the different meetings are here: www.birchislandbooks.com/writerspace/

So, grammar.  English is a branch of the German language family on a Celtic language structure with a ton of Latin-derived vocabulary, adapted to be closer to Norse, with words made up and carried in by new friends in every century.  In the 1400s, the guy with the first English printing press said “I’m going to standardize spelling the way it is in the most formal, long-established documents” at the exact same time that the entire population of England underwent a massive shift in how they pronounced things.  In the 1800s, women trying to teach in the very most rural of frontier prairie schools tried like the absolute dickens to write up rules of grammar which looked like Latin because they had heard that Latin was the ultimate, perfect language.  Thus was born the American Academic dialect of English.

Here’s what I want you to know:  your first draft is for you.  It is impossible to make a mistake on a first draft because that’s the purpose of the first draft, to get the poetry out of your head and onto the paper, regardless of someone else’s idea of “correct”.

Later, if you wish to make a second draft which would communicate clearly to other people, great!  My method for turning a first draft into a second draft includes coffee and talking out loud.  If I read a sentence or a line of poetry out loud, in my native dialect of my native language, as the words come out of my mouth I can hear if they are the right way around and I can try different ways of saying the same thing until it sounds right.  If I then have to translate into the American Academic dialect, that’s later.  First I make sure it sounds like real sentences.

A dream journal

is absolutely the right tool for the job — I dream so rarely that I know of, the practice of observing anything at all will help —
and all I have written so far is “I don’t remember any images or actions, but there was a pervading sense of peace”
over and over for days

Which is lovely, of course.

Is it true?
When I’m home safe and asleep in my bed, do I dream about being home safe and asleep in my bed?

It’s early.

Still-dark early
with a bit of moon-glow, but only a light touch.

I look around and see worry and striving or
lonely depression or
pandemic,

But for some reason they are not mine.
I am in the right place.
I am in the right work.
I am loving the right people.

I am making progress on cleaning the attic, which is absolutely proof of miracles. Sit with me and I’ll tell you about the correlation between how my house looks and how my mental health is going.

We cleared out a box labeled 1993 this weekend, that’s how long and how deep has been this struggle.

And it’s early yet.

Sunday morning

Sgiob is singing a little song to herself,
something to do with chasing the bouncy ball
and having a cool stone lintel to lie on when she gets too warm.

The sound is close to a purr,
tonal
and it is both comforting and nostalgic.

Something about “this lovely life,
yet I have memories which are not mine
of great flocks and open places.”