Writing is about putting letters into specific positions to create words and then putting words into specific positions in order to represent the world.
I haven’t written more than a handful of patterns for months.
It feels less like instinct the longer I go without writing.
At the same time as feeling less natural I want it more.
It starts to eat at me.
I have the thing that needs to be represented growing in me.
I just haven’t put it into words.
So it grows and grows.
My mind becomes a backpack.
Packed for many different purposes.
I reach in and pull out an ice axe and a three ring binder.
What kind of story includes an ice axe and a three ring binder?
I think maybe a very long story.
Or a choose your own adventure kind of story.
At the same time unpacking is writing.
So I’m preparing and doing at the same time.
While I was traveling I would wonder on the many long bus rides.
I wondered if I could write poems in my head before writing them down.
It was suppose to help me train my mind, it was a kind of meditation.
There was one poem I made, I don’t think I ever finished more than that one poem. It didn’t take me long before I would get distracted with analyzing what I was trying to accomplish. I was trying to use words in a zone where words might not be necessary. Words are suppose to be the representation of some real thing. “Red” speaks of something seen and “rough” explains about a relationship between textures. The words are parts of the world but they are only words. The rough or red thing is the real piece.
I thought since my mind should be able to hold the red and rough things I could write a poem directly. I could write a poem made out of experiences.
I began by trying to imagine feelings and colors. Shades of things I have experienced.
Soon I realized I had been telling myself poems for years without touching any words.
I have this habit of visualizing that I’m walking with a suit of armor on. I try to see it from as many different angles as possible and in as much detail as I can hold in my mind. I look at the joins and clasps to wonder how they would have to fit together.
I think this started as a kind of calming exercise for me. I have several visualizations that I do regularly. Some help me feel calm, and some help me feel strong.
If I was walking down an especially foreign avenue during my travels I would hold one of these in my mind to help me feel comfortable.
Later I realized another kind of poem made without words.
I wondered if I could write a poem without words. A poem uses words to represent some aspect of the world so it would seem a poem without words would use another form. This seemed hard to create at first but soon I saw that even something as simple as drinking a cup of coffee was a poem without words. If a cup of coffee is a poem then nearly all of life’s chosen experiences are poetry. Going for a walk could be a poem or smelling some fresh cut ginger.
If all of this is true than I find myself wondering what I’m trying to represent. If poems represent something, and if nearly all experiences are poetry, then what is the thing that is represented by my senses and words?
I have no idea.
All I’ve found is a bunch of languages describing whatever is underneath.
Maybe all the languages are also the the real thing.
Like how “red” is a word and something seen. Also it occurs to me that my eyes are speaking their own language called sight about the real thing I call “red”.
Maybe all these things have layers underneath.
Maybe poetry is more about what we choose to experience and less about the language it is spoken in. I can read a poem about sadness or summer and choose to experience some aspect of sadness or summer. The choice of what aspect I experience is one of the really interesting aspects.
I think the reason writing has been so difficult for me over the last few months has been the struggle to see the world as poetry. I have become so attached to the outcomes that I don’t allow myself a few steps back for a greater perspective. I stand right up close, and in doing so, I struggle to see. This election, climate change,and the polarizing and otherizing has really glued my feet close. It has made it really easy for me to feel like these things are being done to me. It’s easy to feel like a victim.
I get overwhelmed because I feel small and separate and the stress melts the words in my head before they can reach the keys on my computer.
I believe the struggle of this age is whether we choose separateness or connection. I hope in some small way my own struggle to hear poetry is my part in the overall movement. It’s my way to be the change.