December 22, 2013

To the Poets I Know

This year's display at the Botanic Garden was inspired by the World Fairs of years past. As usual, surreal & lovely; the one Christmas tradition I always make time for in DC. 

I sent a few notes to poet-friends today--to stay on top of my inbox --and realized, for all the casualness of tone, how important certain writers are in my life. You may be one of the people I'm thinking about, even though we're not that close. 

Maybe because I've known you for over a decade, before either of us published.

Maybe because you talk about iambics and power tools with equal enthusiasm. 

Maybe because you answered your phone that time I thought you were still at AWP and let me babble about snarky conference weirdness before gently mentioning you'd already flown home, were in a different time zone, and needed to get some sleep.

Maybe because you advocate for social change, and you aren't afraid to argue, whereas I am non-confrontational to a fault. 

Maybe because you're so confident in your skin that you make me confident in mine. 

Maybe because we always knock it out on the dance floor. 

Maybe because you chose to go back to your hometown.

Maybe because you were really happy for me when I told you I'd won that prize, though I realized later I was accidentally breaking the news you hadn't won that prize. 

Maybe because we share the realities of writing about the medicalized body.

Maybe because you're the most dedicated teacher I know. 

Maybe because you were graceful that time I blanked on your name. 

Maybe because you are a real pain in the ass, but you make things happen.

Maybe because you insisted on buying my book, though you already had a copy, so I could say I sold a book at the reading. And then you let me crash on your couch. 

Maybe because even your promotional announcements are funny. 

Maybe because you don't drink. 

Maybe because you gave me the model, when I so desperately needed one, for valuing attention to my writing over starting a family. 

Maybe because you stole Flat Langston. 

Maybe because it could have been weird between us that one time and it wasn't.

Maybe because you show up at events all over the DC, Virginia and Maryland area even though I know you don't drive, which must means hours on buses and the metro.

Maybe because your poems are so dissonant and brave and musical they make me want to write harder. 

You don't have to be on Facebook. We don't need to meet up for drinks. I don't have to be a "writer to watch" you list when asked to name them in interviews.  

O o o poets. I just like to know you're out there, doing what you do. Thanks for that. 

And Shann Palmer, you will be missed. Her blog, "Shann Palmer Says," has a December 11 poem draft. The next day Shann had a heart attack, and never woke from the coma that followed. I remember giving a reading in Richmond, Virginia, at Fountain Books for Theories of Falling--except the printer hadn't delivered my first copies in time. So I was selling little handmade chapbooks of the collection's highlights, bound with curling ribbon, with a black & white print-out of the cover-to-be. Shann bought one. She was a funny, practical, salty lady--I think if I called her a dame she'd take it as the intended compliment--yet a woman of faith, as well, and song, and a talented poet. 

I am so very ready for 2014.

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