You Think Poetry Is Hard From There?

The Miracle of Mercury should be out shortly. I edited finalized galleys and got everything back to the publisher before the end of the year. There were several complications along the way and while  I know these things happen, am getting anxious to finally see the copy in my hands. It's an odd thing giving birth to a collection of poetry. There is the process of writing itself and then there are the
worries that I went too far, was too open. I'm afraid the emotional lesions will manifest themselves in reality and not just in my mind. And there is also the fear that one day there will be a knock at my door and some enraged reader demanding to know how I thought I had the nerve to sketch them into a poem. I am having this ambivalence more I guess with the poetry in this collection. It is pretty raw. Even for me. I don't much like finding myself there at times either, so if you are on those pages just breath, it's all okay just remember, I warned you. Or, maybe I didn't.

So having said that, once the mechanical shifting of pages and emails and galleys and covers and acknowledgements are all moved around and settled it does become a thing about the content. Now I'll be the first to admit that the writing process, especially for poetry, is extraordinarily solitary. I don't have readers that read the poetry (well, except for my poor husband who has to feel like a captive at times).  For me, writing poetry is primarily self-contained unlike fiction. Fiction is different: characters can get off track, plot lines dangle off the edge of movement until they are lost in a jumble of lost threads that seemed like they were going somewhere but ended up not. But the poem is an entity that has to stay in my head until it sees the thing. Captures the thing. Becomes the thing.

Unraveling the emotional drooling becomes what I have to conquer. Can I get to the emotion of that moment? Can I capture it with a mere grouping of words? Is my recall honest enough to be honest in the poem? Can mere words pull out the experience so that a reader can experience the same moment for themselves? And, finally, can I really convey with tiny words these things that haunt my dreams?

So, this process then becomes about the challenge of creation and not about the thing. Until, that is, the writing and the editing and the publishing processes are completed, like busy work that has nothing to do with the collection. Then, oh, THEN it becomes about the content and this is where I begin to shiver...

Realization usually hits the first time I read from the new book; after the poems have sat awhile, cooled off their heat, left their emotional connections behind. It's when I actually hear them out loud in a room full of strangers that take that thirty seconds of pin dropping silence to respond that I think, well, maybe that went a little too deep. Maybe I bared just too much that time. Maybe I will look down and see skin pulled back from my arm, my leg, my cheek like a physical manifestation of each poem that tells the stories everyone wants to hide, well anyone that was there anyway.

So I am bracing for the release. Trying to find that balance between pride in a feat accomplished and the terror that I have allowed others to look a little deeper into my soul.  There are civilizations that believe that taking your picture steals your soul. I wonder, how much of my soul do you think the pieces of me in these poems take? Or, is THAT the very thing that these poems are about?