Friday, August 5, 2011

Anam Cara - Day Five

Damn, I started counting my days here one day late. Today already marks my halfway point which is sad indeed. If you are thinking of coming here, give yourself more time than you think you will need. Getting over jet lag, especially from the west coast will take a few days even in the best of circumstances.

And of course poems don't like to be rushed. Who does? Today I'm scouring old notebooks for abandoned work. It's a lesson I need again and again. Most of my poems start as dreck, as unreadable slosh. There's only a glimmer of what I'm beginning to think.

Yet, if I don't let myself write badly, I will never write at all.

A friend told me of an experiment she read of in the book Art and Fear. Both groups of people were told to make clay pots. One group was instructed to make the best one pot that they could. They worked hard. The second group was told they'd be judged on the number of pots they threw. Pot after pot with little angst over the shape of any one piece. The group that improved the most, that created the best art, (don't ask me how they judged this) was the second group.

Why is it so hard to let myself throw a pile of poems? But that's today's goal. Not to finish anything, not to worry about the calendar waving its pages away.

Of course I'm already cheating by going back through old notebooks and I do it because the new pieces I'm writing feel frightfully bad. But how unfair to judge them in the first minutes after creation. I'd love to know how others allow themselves this initial writing stage with less self-loathing. I think at the moment there has been so little time in my life to write this last year that I'm moving through sludge. I'm hoping that over the next few days something will let go. And even if it doesn't -- I have to admit I'm pretty happy watching the clouds and the cows.


  1. Oh my goodness, I posted about the very same passage from Art & Fear - perhaps I'm so jealous of your time at Anam Cara, I secretly tapped into your thoughts! Thank you for letting us share your experience there.

  2. Thanks, Erin! It is a place you should seriously consider coming. I got a very reasonable airfare and although I was worried about money - once you get here, there is really nothing to spend money on other than postcards and stamps. Do consider coming!

  3. Your photos haven't been coming through my FB feed, so I stopped by to visit -- how lucky you are! When I have done residencies I usually spend at least a week or two paralyzed by my internal judge's dictum that I Write Great Poems... which is, of course, utterly silencing. Try to think of what you generate there as tender new shoots that you'll take home with you and nurture and shape into something that's yet unknown... Enjoy!