Poem : Vespers

Speaking directly to my thoughts today…

Vespers
by Moira Egan

One of the gifts of the evening hours
is darkness, a velt screen between your self
and the brutal art of dying.
Your knees, your shoulders, ribs,
are hard etched in the parchment of your skin.
You watch your own heart beat, you’ve grown so thin.
Another gift is numb, narcotic sleep.
Entire days drip slowly into veins,
the tubes exchanging morphine for release
from pain as deep and venomous as dreams.
Tonight I wish you this: a candle blown
out gently, the last page of your book,
and all your children near. And may your bones
sing, no longer with pain, but with roses.

[Found here.]

A Little Announcement…

A friend sent me this photo of Anne Sexton after this bookish post I shared a few months ago. There’s something about it that I find quite arresting. Her surroundings, typewriter sitting at her elbow waiting for words and books slanting against one another, waiting to be rifled through. Her outfit, sleeves rolled up on her button down, with comfortable slacks and black flats. Her position, chair tipped back with her feet on the desk. She props her hand in the air and her lips part – she’s about to say something good, something worth writing down.
This is the life of a writer at its best.
At times I find myself fantasizing about this life, and I have to stop and remember that writing is hard. It’s bleeding and weeping and prying your hands from perfection in order to grasp hold of the truth. It’s nothing like leaning back and propping up your feet; or at least not very often, and certainly not when there’s a camera in the room to document it. Sexton knew this all too well.
But just now, today, I feel very much ready to take it on, this life of writing – the bleeding and the crying, and then, in scarce and blessed moments, with the afternoon light gleaming through the window, the happy relief of having said something good, something worth writing down.
So here is my little announcement : Ally and Darrell of Prodigal Magazine asked me to be a staff writer for their newly refurbished online mag. My first article will be published later this week or next, but you’ll see my words over there a couple of times each month. I’m excited, scared, thankful.
But most of all, I’m ready.

Inspired By.

I’ve fallen in love.

It started innocently enough… A friend introduced me to him at a Starbucks on a rainy day. We acquainted ourselves over London Fog lattés, and now the more I get to know him the more I realize I cannot live without him. His name, you ask?

Earl Grey. 
There’s just something about his flavor and scent, a citrusy fog that is musky and deep like the best kind of cologne, that brings all of life to a low hum. In his presence I find myself unwound, loose and swoony and deeply content in the way that only a dashing British gentleman can do to a girl.
This love affair has gotten out of hand, but like any true romance, it’s a helplessness I enjoy. My best friend further enabled this relationship by making an Earl Grey Panna Cotta for dessert last night… yes, the best tea in the world transformed into creamy spoonfuls that are even more satisfying than the best tiramisu you can imagine, the epitome of relaxation and luxury.
And on a rainy snowy afternoon at the end of the week, what could be better than a cup of Earl Grey and a good read? Treat yourself…
Authenticity online : on abs and imperfections and the worst two months ever. (Love these women.)

Writing Therapy.

“And even though their son will always be alive in their hearts, like Pammy and my dad will be alive in mine- and maybe this is the only way we ever really have anyone-there is still something to be said for painting portraits of the people we have loved, for trying to express those moments that seem so inexpressibly beautiful, the ones that change us and deepen us.”
– Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird
I found the poem I shared yesterday written on the back side of a scrap of watercolor paper, a painting I had begun that I destroyed entirely with too much of the wrong color. On Sunday evening I finally decided to clean out a bag full of things I had taken home with me that week before Christmas, when I knew that this was my last journey home to her. So many things were in that bag. Christmas cards, sympathy cards, receipts from the hospital cafe, a copy of mom’s obituary, a Vogue that I flipped through mindlessly because I couldn’t bring myself to read the novel I brought, scraps of paintings that never turned out, scraps of writings from spare moments when fairly cohesive thoughts broke through my sadness.
Two months later, I don’t even remember writing that poem. Was I in the hospital? Was I at home? Late at night or early in the day? Before or after she slipped and fell and hit her head on the cold bathroom tile and all the nurses came rushing in at once and I cried, but she didn’t?
I left all of that out, but the emotion is there.
I’ve found bits and pieces of these experiences all over the place, scribbled on napkins and receipts and work notes. Like finding all the outer edges of a 500-piece puzzle I’ve been gathering them, trying to fit them together to keep the memories alive. Because sometimes, yes, I have to ask,

Did that really happen?

It did.
And she’s gone.
But she’s still with me.
Reading Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird has been very much like going to see my therapist, except that Lamott is like the therapist for my writing psyche. She tells me to write thoughts as they come to me on index cards or in a notebook. I think for a long moment about all of my notebooks and scraps of paper.
“Oh yeah… I guess that’s what I’ve been doing, in a way.”
“Good,” she smiles. “That’s normal for a writer, whatever that means.”

Poem : Ebb and Flow.

The complex fairness of it, and its paradox.
Fair, because she doted on me my whole life :
Swaddled, nourished, comforted, encouraged.
It’s her turn now.

But how unfair, that she should be weakened, helpless.
Her strength ebbs away, just out of reach for her,
for any of us, to grasp.
It’s the thing I cannot give her.

Where is the dignity?
All our lives we’ve struggled to find it.
It will be snatched away.
It will leave her lifeless in her child’s arms,
our world turned backwards.

The ebb and flow,
of fair and unfair,
of grief and joy,
of life and death,
of strange and familiar,
wears me down to nothing,
a smooth round stone for throwing.

[Written : 12.20.11]

book·ish : films

After watching Midnight In Paris again over the weekend, I started thinking about bookish films, or movies that talk about the writing life, the creative struggle, the process of writing literature, or ones that examine the lives of famous writers, etc.
These aren’t film adaptations of literature, but films that address the subject of writing literature. Maybe I should have filed this under a new weekly column, “writerly”? But hey, it’s my blog.
Anyway, when it comes to bookish films, Stranger than Fiction is my absolute favorite, but there are many others out there. Adaptation, Atonement, Becoming Jane, Finding Neverland, to name a few. Do you have a favorite?

 

book·ish/ˈbo͝okiSH/Adjective
1. (of a person or way of life) Devoted to reading and studying rather than worldly interests.
2. (of language or writing) Literary in style or allusion.
3. (of art and all manner of lovely things) devoted to the written word as a form of art and as a way of seeing the world.
4. (of SheWritesandRights.blogspot.com) anything of the aforementioned characteristics as they are found on the interwebs and reposted by Bethany, because bookish and writerly things always give reason for amusement.

Inspired By.

Friends, my blog reader is feeling a little stale. It’s like going to my closet full of clothes and sighing, “I have absolutely nothing to wear…” This a complete lie, but it’s just that feeling that nothing feels new or particularly exciting that makes me feel a little… ennui. The truth is, there are some great pieces in my “favorite blogs” closet, and I love them, and I’m absolutely going to keep them around, but I’m ready to do a little shopping!
So give me some good deals, okay? Tell me : what’s your favorite blog? Leave your favorite in the comments.

My one criteria is not that you share a writing blog, but that you share a blog that has good writing. There is a difference, don’t you think? It has to be a good read. And please, make sure it’s one that’s easy on the eyes. If the design is terrible (i.e. too crazy colors and backgrounds, ridiculous and unreadable fonts) I will immediately click away from it and won’t bother reading. See? The clothing analogies are endless when it comes to blog shopping!

Despite my restlessness, here are a few that I’ve found this week that did catch my attention.
“A study published last month in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social  Networking found that the more time people spent on Facebook, the happier they perceived their friends to be and the sadder they felt as a consequence. What we’re losing, Ms. Turkle said, is a healthy form of compartmentalization.” – About over-sharing and over-obsessing in social media.
And let’s differentiate between “thinspiration” and “healthspiration,” otherwise known as the dark side of Pinterest.
The academy is always late to the party (but Adele still deserved the sweep.)
“While I waited, I kept writing.” Great advice about submitting book proposals to publishers.
And what’s your writing routine? I’m still working on mine.
Can’t wait to explore your links! Have a good weekend, friends.

Guest Post | One Letter

I love what my friend Missy said the other day,
She was talking about Grammy winner Adele’s breakup with a terrible, horrible, no good boyfriend that broke her heart, and how that breakup gave Adele the fuel she needed to write the album that changed her life and changed the world. It’s a beautiful concept isn’t it? It’s not something we think about in the midst of pain, but creativity has the power to heal if we let it.
What experiences in your life can you put to good use? How can sharing those experiences through your art impact the lives of others?
I answer those questions in my guest post for Missy’s blog in her “One Letter” series, and talk about my relationship with my mom, the letter she left me, and the one letter I would love to leave for my own daughter some day.

Poem : In Love, His Grammar Grew

I stumbled across this yesterday. Isn’t it fantastic?

In Love, His Grammar Grew
BY STEPHEN DUNN

In love, his grammar grew
rich with intensifiers, and adverbs fell
madly from the sky like pheasants
for the peasantry, and he, as sated
as they were, lolled under shade trees
until roused by moonlight
and the beautiful fraternal twins
and and but. Oh that was when
he knew he couldn’t resist
a conjunction of any kind.
One said accumulate, the other
was a doubter who loved the wind
and the mind that cleans up after it.
For love
he wanted to break all the rules,
light a candle behind a sentence
named Sheila, always running on
and wishing to be stopped
by the hard button of a period.
Sometimes, in desperation, he’d look
toward a mannequin or a window dresser
with a penchant for parsing.
But mostly he wanted you, Sheila,
and the adjectives that could precede
and change you: bluesy, fly-by-night,
queen of all that is and might be.