Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Poetry of Self-Awareness

I was one of those weird kids who liked poetry. I still do. One of my favorite classes was Language Arts. The teacher, Mr. Sandling, was a small, fastidious, bespectacled man who was passionate about poetry and literature. His passion was infectious and he made me think. He gave me something interesting to think about. He challenged me and he inspired me. It's because of him that I realized I could write. He was always so excited about everything I handed in and he made me want to be good. I wonder if he knew that his class was one of the very few I actually bothered to attend. I wonder if he knew that he THE only teacher whose opinion and favor I valued.

So, anyway...I'm a sucker for poetry, and my dear friend Screaming Mommy who is a born poet, has issued a poetry challenge. No, don't look at me that way, it will be fun. It's the thinking chick's meme. You girls can do this. And you don't even have to be all deep. You can be flip or funny if you like.

And besides, this blog could use something a little more highbrow than the what I did on my summer vacation type stuff I've been posting lately.

Using Robert Frost's "Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening" answer the following questions:

1) If "the woods" symbolize for something in your life you *want* to do, *what is it?

a. this week it would be...
b. this year it will be...
c. your life it is...

2) If "promises to keep, and miles to go" symbolizes something in your life that is keeping you back from "the woods". What is it/are they?

My answers are:

A. Finish "Funeral in a Small Town Part III".
B. Complete a novel and submit for publication.
C. Carve out an identity for myself other than wife and mother.

Sigh. That part is a little tougher. What is keeping me from the woods.... Myself. Why? I don't know. Fear of failure? Fear of success? Fear of finding out that I'm really not a good writer? Fear that if "aspiring writer" is taken away from me I have nothing left to strive for. No identity. No concrete goal. No real me to discover. And, you know...the fact that I still have to do laundry, scrub toilets and cook meals while I attempt to write the great American Novel. I bet Hemingway didn't have to concern himself with skidmarks while he was writing the Old Man and the Sea, and I gaurantee that Joyce didn't have to carpool. Why, I bet Ulysses practically wrote itself.

Hmmm. Introspection on a rainy Tuesday morning. M, you are a sly one.

Don't leave me hanging out here with my self-awareness flapping in the breeze. Go to M's blog and take her up on her challenge. Don't make me tag you. I mean it.

If you participate (surely there are other poetry dorks like me out there) leave a link in her comments to your post.

I'm going to issue an addedum to her challenge. Post a piece of poetry that really speaks to you. You don't even have to say why. Often, a poem grabs me not because of the meaning, but because of the way the words tumble around together, or because a particular turn of phrase is lyrical and evocative. Sometimes, exploring the meaning of a poem ruins it for me. Edna St. Vincent Millay wrote such pretty things, but the deeper meaning behind her words was often sad and depressing.

I chose a poem by Maya Angelou called "I know Why the Caged Bird Sings" I think this poem is so powerful because EVERYBODY can relate to feeling like a caged bird at some time in their life. It is a universal lament that reaches accross barriers of race, religion and economic status.

It isn't "pretty", but it isn't supposed to be. Right now, it means something to me because I have caged myself in a way. Through a series of bad choices early on in my life, I have denied myself opportunities. Now, I am struggling to break free of a life I have created from a lack of options. That's not to say I haven't found my life meaningful. I have. But it's time to move on now and I don't have anywhere to go. I don't have a key to open the door of my cage. But I will.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

The free bird leaps
on the back of the win
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wings
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with fearful trill
of the things unknown
but longed for still
and is tune is heard
on the distant hillfor the caged bird
sings of freedom

The free bird thinks of another breeze
an the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn
and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.


  • At 7:33 AM, Blogger Oh, The Joys said…

    It's funny, I was an English major in college, but have never really liked Poetry. In fact, I'm even somewhat reluctant to read short stories (with exceptions for Carver, O'Connor and Robert Olen Butler). Give me the full on novel. So 'Caged Bird' - God what a moving novel...

    This doesn't answer your question, but it's what I've got this a.m.

  • At 8:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Great challenge, one I may consider. I love poetry too and always have, even as a little girl.

    As far as #2, there may be inconsequential things that you perceive as keeping you from the writing you need to do ("need" being my term), such as skidmarks, but it won't be because you discover that you have no talent, because you have more than your fair share of talent.

    I just read this article on Twyla Tharp the great choreographer/dancer who says that great artists create great things by establishing the routine of work and then doing it - daily. She says that some days she produces crap and other days she produces masterpieces. She adds that if she waited for inspiration, she would have accomplished nothing. So that's why I blog - the forced exercise of writing, sometimes crap, sometimes not too bad!

    And now I don't know what my point was.

  • At 9:09 AM, Blogger Miss Peg said…

    I am not a big fan of poetry, but I did post one on my blog that I really like. Hope you enjoy!

  • At 10:19 AM, Blogger Sandra said…

    I loved your responses to this challenge and especially the May Angelou poem ... I love everything she writes ... but this is one of my favourites.

  • At 2:31 PM, Blogger Blog Antagonist said…

    OTJ: YES! That novel is a must read. I had forgotten about it, and I need to add it to my list of great reads.

    AM: You are so right. I'm currently reading "Stephen King on Writing", (I think that despite his popularity he is undervalued as an writer because of his genre) and he talks about this a lot. It's so hard to devote that kind of time without feeling guilty for it. It seems so self-indulgent, kwim? And what if I spend all that time writing a book and it sucks and nobody wants to buy it?? Oy.

    I overthink things. It's my achilles heel.

    MP: I loved that ee cummings poem. Thanks for sharing!

    SS: Thank you. Yet another thing we have in common!

  • At 4:17 PM, Blogger Foofa said…

    My favorite has always been Langston Hughes "Suicide Note" I like it for its simplicity, beauty, and desperation.
    The calm
    Cool face of the river
    Asked me for a kiss

  • At 4:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    WhaT the hell are you talking about?
    How many times did you edit this poem before you posted it?

    The worse poem i have read in ages and God knows that i have read a lot.


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