Disheveled

In order to procrastinate working on my MFA apps, let me tell you about all the ways that these MFA apps are scaring the shit out of me.

So many things have changed this past year and a half, it would be actually hilarious to try to enumerate them to you.

What matters is: I woke up this morning with a groggy man sporting some seriously disheveled hair. He went to sleep before me, and his alarm went off before I was planning on waking up (as per usual). I heard his Xbox boot up and knew it was time for me to roll my ass out of bed. My pup got up and started stretching her back like a cat.

Putting on my winter coat to take Olive outside (somehow fall shot straight into winter without a moment’s notice), I instinctually flipped my hood up over my hair to shield the world from the morning craziness (apparently it’s a theme in this household).

I sat on the couch to Facebook surf and Olive decided to flop onto me in this weird, adorable way she has. Most things she does are weird and adorable.

I got up from the couch, stepped over my video game nerd who was sitting on the ground, and bumbled into the kitchen to fix myself a breakfast of brownies and a banana. When I returned to the couch, my dog sitting in front of me and staring at me unflinchingly until my food was gone.

I feel like I have a family again, is what I’m saying. It’s going to be harder to leave this behind than it ever has been to leave anything. I’ve always been obsessed with planning for the future, but it’s never been so mixed up with an extreme, contradictory love for the present and fear of change.

Don’t get me wrong—like I said, I’m still feeling a crazed kind of excitement for graduate school. I would much rather be stressing over an assignment that pertains to my personal growth as a poet than to stress over some old lady who thought her scone was DISGUSTING!!!!! GIVE ME MY MONEY BACK!!! Also, I still do things like eat brownies for breakfast…

I’ve been dropping in on Di Seuss’ contemporary poetry class, and it has truly made me feel like a real person again. Nothin’ like being out of your element for so long and then dunked right back into it. I know I’m doing the right thing, but this love of the present thing…this is new.

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Unmissable

WHOA.  Was that a hiatus, or what?  As my penance for being gone for so long, I’ve compiled a (linked) list of poems that should not be missed!

1. “Anniversary,” Louise Glück

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/179774

Louise Glück is one of those poets I somehow miraculously discovered in high school, when I was first starting to stumble upon contemporary poetry.  There’s something about this poem that remains in the back of my mind—especially because it’s SO different from Glück’s usual style.  I read something she said (in an interview maybe? Or something. Something a dumb-but-curious-and-nerdy high school student could find on the internet) about always attempting to transcend her habits by identifying them and not allowing herself to rest in them.  I still think about that.

 

2. “Boonies,” D.A. Powell

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poem/242666

I’m probably one of D.A. Powell’s biggest fans.  When some friends and I went to see him read in Ann Arbor last year, I was so overwhelmed with excitement I think it was actually detrimental to my health.  This is, by far, my favorite from his new book.

 

3. “Look,” Laura Kasischke

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/browse/189/1#!/20607590

Guys, I love Laura Kasischke.  I knew I wanted to include one of her poems, but it was nearly impossible to choose.  This one is an amazing example of her unusual instincts regarding layout.  The em dashes at the end make my heart stop a little bit.

 

4. “Aubade with a Broken Neck,” Traci Brimhall

http://www.versedaily.org/2010/brokenneck.shtml

Of all the Traci Brimhall poems I’ve known and loved, this one remains my favorite.  It’s everything I want an aubade (a poem written upon waking) to be.  Coincidentally, it’s also the first poem of Traci’s I ever read!

 

5. “Romanticism (The Blue Keats),” Roger Reeves

http://www.theparisamerican.com/roger-reeves-poetry.html

Roger Reeves, man.  Roger is the kind of poet who leaves an indelible impression no matter which poem of his you encounter first.  What’s miraculous about his poems, to me, is that it’s extremely obvious how well read and conscious of the canon he is, yet he somehow manages to maintain a personal style that is unmistakably his own.  A defining characteristic of that style is the persistent, simultaneous existence of tenderness and violence.

 

6. “Waiting,” Allison Benis White

http://www.allisonbeniswhite.com/waiting.html

I met Allison Benis White through the Poets in Print Reading Series at the Kalamazoo Book Arts Center this past April.  Talking to her afforded me one of my first experiences of truly connecting with another poet.  We talked about craft, process, influences…everything.  I’m pretty sure I followed her around like an imprinted duckling.  Every once in a blue moon, you find writers you just want to be able to write like someday.

 

7. “I’m Over the Moon,” Brenda Shaughnessy

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/182959

Once again, a first…the first poem of Brenda Shaughnessy’s I ever read.  Brenda Shaughnessy’s Human Dark with Sugar was one of the first books Di ever suggested I read based on my own poetry…that was a huge landmark to me.  I felt like I was finally honing my voice enough to have a reached a point where she could do that. And, of course, she was SO right.

 

8. “The Hotel Devotion,” Sandra Beasley

http://linebreak.org/poems/the-hotel-devotion/

This. Poem. I feel like all I need to say is that this is one of the first poems I’ve ever read that compelled me to read it out loud to ANYONE who would listen.

 

9. “Other Lives and Dimensions and Finally a Love Poem,” Bob Hicock

http://www.pa56.org/ross/hicok.htm

A friend of mine sent me this poem the other day, and I swear my jaw dropped during the second half.  It’s a fantastic example of expert titling—the poem itself takes an interesting turn, but then there’s Bob guiding us with the title.  I’m especially interested in love poems lately because well, let’s face it, I’ve both fallen in love and fallen in love with love.  Maybe I’m insufferable on the matter, hey, who cares.  I’ve never been able to write a decent love poem, but I want to.  LOOK.  They do exist!

 

10.  “My pants are disintegrating. Yes,” Diane Seuss

http://thesmokingpoet.tripod.com/spring2012/id7.html

I struggled with choosing which poem by Diane Seuss I wanted to add to this list.  Of course, I’m a HUGE fan of “Either everything is sexual or nothing is,” which is included in the 2013 Pushcart Anthology, but I wanted to think outside the box a little more.  Di has written so many incredible poems, it’d be a shame to overlook others.  I interned for a local literary magazine last year, and had the pleasure of putting together this page of Di’s poems.  They’re all unforgettable, but I urge you, especially, to read “My pants are disintegrating. Yes,” …the pants mentioned in the poem were, I’m assuming, the same Di was wearing when I first officially met her.  I’m sure all of the other students from my first year seminar at Kalamazoo College also remember the ensemble Di wore to greet us and our still-over-protective parents: notably, the hot-pink zebra striped leggings.  What’s most incredible about this poem, in my opinion, is the way Di can take any seemingly mundane moment of life and make it into a vivid, expansive, masterpiece of a poem.  I mean, what did you do last time a piece of clothing you loved fell apart?

 

Stay tuned, guys!!! I hope to update my “about me” page and post again soon.  I’ve noticed other blogs ask questions at the end of posts, so um, here’s a question: have you ever read a love poem that wasn’t completely insufferable? You can easily leave comments via facebook (through this page, even!), or through a g-mail account. I’ll be back soon!

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On Francesca Woodman

Sometimes I wonder if coincidence is even really a thing.  Sometimes it’s just too much to be by chance.  For instance—this thing my life has with Francesca Woodman.  She’s everywhere.

Francesca Woodman is a visual artist (mostly photography, but a couple short films, as well).  She was originally from Colorado, but also lived in Rhode Island, Italy, and New York City.  She comes from a family of artists—her parents are George Woodman and Betty Woodman.  Her photographs are mainly black and white, almost always featuring herself or another young woman.  Wikipedia says:  “Many of her photographs show young women who are nude, who are blurred (due to movement and long exposure times), who are merging with their surroundings, or whose faces are obscured” (I was trying to think of a way to re-word that so I didn’t have to use Wikipedia, but once I read something one way, it’s hard for me to re-word it.  Plus, we all use Wikipedia, get over it J ).  Francesca Woodman committed suicide on January 19th, 1981, at the age of 22.  She had become depressed due to a failed relationship, and, her father suggests, an unsuccessful application for funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.

So, let’s count the ways Francesca has shown up in my life.  When I was in New York City, we had to attend these (in some ways hideous) seminars on a weekly basis, so they could pretend we were actually in school (ha).  They pissed me off, because they were 100% visual art and almost 0% writing.  Don’t get me wrong, visual art is invaluable to writers (obviously, considering this post), but it irked me that it didn’t seem to go the other way, as well.  But I digress.  An art critic named Frances Richard talked to our group about her job and her journey through the art world.  One of her first jobs out of college was to catalogue and compile the work of none other than Francesca Woodman—the work was too emotionally taxing for Woodman’s parents as a result of the suicide.  Richards showed us a few of Woodman’s photographs.  I was intrigued, to say the least, but still kind of clueless as to my poetic obsessions.

A few weeks later, some friends and I went to a poetry reading via BOMB magazine, where the other writer in the program had her internship.  We were sitting at a table with an artsy-looking guy.  He made small talk with us.  When he found out we were artists, he excitedly asked us if we’d seen The Woodmans, which was showing at a theater in New York that currently slips my mind.  I hadn’t seen it, but I felt deliciously in-the-loop for knowing about Francesca Woodman at all.  The film is a documentary, released in 2010, on the Woodmans’ lives (okay, so mostly Francesca’s life), and it won “Best New York Documentary” at the Tribeca Film Festival.  Again, wtf-am-I-doing-with-my-life-I-think-maybe-I’m-an-artist-Kim was kinda dumb and didn’t go see it.  I plan on ordering it on DVD soon.

So, the count is up to two times that Francesca Woodman walked into my life.  She stayed in the back of my mind after New York City.  Meanwhile, I took Postmodern Critical Theory, a philosophy class that introduced me to Jacques Lacan and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, theorists who deal in the body and desire formation, and discovered where my artistic mind truly lived.  My SIP (and most poems I’ve written since) is positively obsessed with embodiment, namely the female body and femininity as a concept.

Recently, I was hanging out with my mentor, Diane Seuss, when she looked up from her computer and said “Have you ever heard of Francesca Woodman?”  She’d been looking back at her old issues of The New Yorker and discovered an article on Woodman, her work, and (I’m assuming) the documentary.  By strike three, I know it’s not a coincidence.  “That’s so bizarre,” I said, “She keeps coming up for me again and again.”  Di replied with “That must mean you need to write about her.”

I’ve become completely obsessed with the idea.  When I look at Woodman’s photos, I feel, in a bizarre way, like they are the visual translation of my poems.  There’s obviously something connecting us that’s caused her to repeatedly make her way into my life.  I’m embarking on a poetry project inspired by her.  Some ideas: writing after her photos, writing to her, and writing as her.

I also think it’s an odd coincidence that my twenty-second birthday is around the corner.  Francesca—I’m picking up where you left off.

http://www.thewoodmansmovie.com/

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So many hyphens in one post

Haven’t blogged in a long time.  I may need to start another blogging-every-day challenge soon, but I’ll try some good old-fashioned self-discipline before I let it get to that point.

So, I was reading back on some old posts thinking “look!  When I blog I’m kind of charming and wise!” and wanting to get back to it.  Ha.  What I want to talk about today is something I specifically mentioned in my last post—thinking about my high school-self, and the poem I wrote to her in my SIP.  In that post, I wondered why I can’t treat my current self with the tenderness I showed toward her.

I’m writing this post because I think I’m getting there, and I want to tell you how.  When I wrote that poem, I was only thinking of how present-me views past-me.  Recently, I started to think about it the other way around—what would high school Kim think of present-day Kim?  I realized she’d probably be slightly scared of me—as I mentioned in the previous post, back then I was trying to be “normal” and now I am categorically not—but, overall, she would probably think I’m pretty damn cool.  I’m still scared now, but I’m not as scared as she was.  Or maybe I’m just as scared, but I’m stronger and I know how to use the fear instead of succumb to it.

I wish I could give you some creative anecdote to illustrate this realization, but I swear it was somehow a 100% interior thing that just came to me.  In a lot of ways, everything I’m doing now is for her—and for the girls like her who are still struggling to kill the darkness instead of ride it.  God, I was probably majorly annoying in high school.  If current-me met high school-me now, I would probably want to punch her in the face.  But in a very loving way.  Yeah.

I’m definitely not saying I’m perfect now, or anywhere near a state of total acceptance.  But I’m closer, and this kind of thinking helped me grow in leaps and bounds.  So, moral of the story is, it’s a good gauge for how things are going.  Sort of an exercise in stepping outside.  What would high school-you think of current-you?

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How to survive 10th week/finals week of winter quarter

How to survive 10th week/finals week of winter quarter:

 

  1. MOVE.  Move move move.  It always makes me feel better.  Lately, I’ve been cancelling riding and the gym left and right (partially because I’m sick, and partially because school and internships are eating my life).  This needs to change.
  2. Be creative.  For me, this means writing and music.  I just burned a bunch of CD’s for my car, because my iPod is out of commission.  I don’t think I’ve clung to music like I do now since I was in high school.  I just went to a concert and I’m finally feeling more like a human being than I have in a long time.  New goal: acquire at least five new CD’s in the next two weeks.  As far as writing goes, this is proving much harder.  I feel like I’m just bleeding emotional and intellectual energy, all the time.  Then again, this is one of those times when you just make yourself do it, damn it.  I need that adrenaline rush of finishing a first draft.
  3. Feed your body and your soul.  I’ve been pretty good about making sure I’m putting good, clean food into my body this quarter, and keeping up with small meals every few hours so I don’t become a crazed hungry bitch.  It’s times like these, though, that I make an effort to eat things that I really, truly, love and enjoy.  These may seem like conflicting ideas, but trust me, they are not mutually exclusive.  There are plenty of things I love to eat that are also healthy (for example: smoothies, fruit, oatmeal with peanut-butter, and superdark chocolate).   http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/ is helping me IMMENSELY in this pursuit.  The main ingredients in her deep-dish cookie pie: garbanzo beans, oatmeal, and applesauce.  My life is complete.
  4. I painted my fingernails, and it made me feel at least two points cooler.  Maybe this can help you, too?  Who knows.
  5. Spend time with other human beings.  Also, animals.  Who are also human beings, mostly.  Cuddling is especially recommended.  Learn to recognize the people who are good for you, and the people who are not.  If they’re not, see item number seven.
  6. Write yourself a love letter.  Or a love poem, if you are so inclined.  This is actually harder than it sounds.  I did a version of this for my SIP—it was a poem addressed to my high school self.  I was surprised to find how easy it was to be tender and loving with my past self.  Why can’t I do that with my present self?  Hopefully that’s the next step.  So, maybe that would be easier for you, too—a past self.  When I was in high school, I was incredibly weird but I was trying so hard to be perfect and happy and cute and blah blah blah.  I was dating someone on the hockey team, and “locker-talk” was basically ruining my life.  Here are some lines from the poem: “I wish I could be gentle with you, put a hand/ on your forehead to say you’re not sick.  You are/ already starting to cough up fistfuls of god.”   The difference now is that I’ve made a life for myself out of recognizing that things are not easy—it’s something I wield instead of suffer. What hurts me, blesses me.  Darkness is my candle.
  7. Practice saying “no.”  This is probably going to be an ongoing thing for me.  I’m so bad at this.
  8. Laugh.  Look at funny things on the internet.  That’s basically what it’s for.  If possible, do this in conjunction with tip number five.  Everything is funnier when you’re with other people.  Really, though.  Everything.
  9. Be amazed by something.  Maybe this is a poet thing, but I’ve had a couple sensory experiences recently that make me just step back and laugh at how invested I can be in the world sometimes.  Experience one: watching my mom pour blackstrap molasses into a bowl. WHOA WHOA WHOA IT IS SO AMAZING.  I don’t even know why, but it is incredible!!!  The same thing happened with a philosophy book I ordered for my existentialism and film class.  I haven’t even read it yet, but it’s the perfect sensory experience of a book.  It’s compact, with lots of pages, and it just feels perfect in my hands.  I freaked out about it for at least twenty minutes, my confused and slightly concerned mother looking on.  I guess I can’t tell you how to have experiences like this, just that you should.  Just slow down enough to notice.  Nothing is more important.
  10. And now for something completely different: absolutely nothing is important.  Let me take a page from the book of Heideggar and remind you that all these things you’re grasping after (amazing grades, a profession, a perfect body, etc) do not, and will never, make you who you are.  Don’t lose yourself in them.  No content defines you.

 

Hope this helps.  I’m sure there are zillions of things I could say, but then it might start sounding like a very overwhelming to-do list, and that is the LAST thing we need right now.

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Manic

Well.  Obviously, the blogging every day thing did not hold up, but it was for good reason.

 

Things I was/am working on that led to your abandonment:

-My SIP (which is turned in and graded already…passed with honors!)

-an internship with The Smoking Poet, a local online literary magazine

-riding (which has been going so well it’s been blowing my mind)

-cooking/baking/working out.  I’m actually obsessing over starting a health and fitness blog in conjunction with this one.  I feel like the aesthetic of that blog would be very different, and I have enough material in my life to support both.

 

So, there you have it.  Probably one of the biggest things that has happened since I’ve been away is that one of the poems from my SIP (“Dark Custard World”) was accepted for publication in The Allegheny Review!  It’s a pretty well-recognized national undergraduate literary magazine, and a lot of writers who have been published in it have gone on to amazing careers (!!!).  I was so excited when I found out, I was manic.  It was borderline unhealthy.  I didn’t sleep that night (I found out at 10:00 pm, via e-mail), and I couldn’t eat the next day.  It didn’t help that Di, Nick, Rebecca and I all trekked over to U of M to see D.A. Powell read that same day…so many exciting poetry happenings, my brain was short circuiting.

I have been given so many wonderful opportunities this year, poetry-wise.  It’s incredible, and almost terrifying, to think about where the future may lead.  It’s funny, because I’ve never thought of myself as the sort of person who climbs ladders or tries to network.  It appears that good things don’t ONLY happen to lucky people, though.  I really am just enthralled by poetry, I eat it and breathe it and live it, and that has opened doors for me more than anything else has.

So, I’ll be around.  I’m working on some interesting things for The Smoking Poet (interviews, book reviews) that have given me some skills I will channel into this blog in the future.  For now, just be on the lookout.  If you’re interested in reading “Dark Custard World,” you can order a copy of the Allegheny Review for only $4.00: http://alleghenyreview.wordpress.com/order/

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SIP preface!

The first time I’d ever heard of Diane Seuss was at a funeral.  I sang in the choir at my high school, and the young man, who had died of cancer, had attended my high school before going on to Kalamazoo College.  The service was hard on all of us.  We were mourning our peer, but, at the same time, we were also mourning our youthful attachment to the notion that teenagers are eternal.  Sitting in a spotlight, facing the pews, the grief was palpable.  The events of the funeral were outlined on a paper program, which we were all fiddling with, nerves on edge.  A poem he had written, somehow simultaneously sorrowful and uplifting, was printed on the back of the program.  As I was reading it, the pastor announced that a professor of the deceased’s, from Kalamazoo College, would speak.  A woman approached the altar, dressed in black, eyes lined with black, long hair dyed black.

***

I decided on Kalamazoo College over the University of Michigan at the last possible moment.  There was something about such a small school that terrified me.  Despite my doubts, my parents sent in the deposit, and there was no going back.  Sheepishly, I sent a few poems to the college in the hopes that I might be able to get some sort of writing scholarship.  Despite this, I didn’t see my poems as anything particularly special.  I was going to go to college to become a lawyer, to make money so I could buy horses.  Poetry was just something I loved, and I had somehow gotten the impression that actually pursuing a passion as a career was a decadence afforded to a lucky few.  And I never planned on being lucky.

I signed up for Diane Seuss’ first year seminar in part because I loved poetry, and partially because I remembered her from the funeral.  I had been a little high school student with something much bigger growling inside her when I’d first encountered Di, and, on a subconscious level, I think I wanted to find out what that thing was.

On the first day of orientation, Di was wearing hot pink and black zebra-striped leggings.  “I wore my special pants for meeting your parents,” she joked.  When we were going around the room introducing ourselves and saying where we were from, Di paused when she recognized the name of my rural hometown south of Kalamazoo.  “You’re the poet?” She said.  I didn’t even know how to answer—no one had ever called me a poet before.  “You write like I did when I was your age.”  I knew at once that there would be no hiding at Kalamazoo College.  In fact, Di had glimpsed the inside of me like no other human being had before.  I was thrilled by her compliment, but I was also terrified—I had the distinct feeling that Di was going to demand things from me in a way I had never experienced.

Three days into my journey at Kalamazoo College, I knew “lawyer” wasn’t it.  Poetry was that big, growling thing that I’d had locked inside of me, and it didn’t take long for it to recognize that Kalamazoo College was its natural environment.  I wanted to notice. I wanted to witness and I wanted to make. I asked Di if she thought I’d be making a mistake, becoming a writer.  If she thought I was good enough.  “Girl, you’re a poet” she said “but, if you want to do this, then you have to claim it.

And claim it I did.  Or, maybe it claimed me.  During spring break of my freshman year, just before taking Intermediate Poetry, I experienced a traumatic mental breakdown as the result of a relationship that had come to an end.  Intermediate gave me back my personhood.  “Your most rewarding relationship will be with poetry,” Di said.  “It will never leave you.  And this is just the beginning.”

***

I set out to write this SIP as a combination of criticism based on Sylvia Plath’s Ariel alongside my own poems.  I read and reread Ariel countless times over the summer, but my impulses told me that I needed to give myself time to breath as a poet, rather than  a critic.  I dropped the critical portion, despite feeling terrified that I was taking the easy way out.

I could not have been more wrong.

I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy my SIP.  I would be lying if I said I’m overjoyed it’s over.  But just because the work was the kind of work I wanted and needed to be doing does not mean it was easy.  I could have sat at a desk and pounded out endless pages of criticism—an entire SIP’s worth—in a week, if I felt motivated.  Poetry just does not work that way.  These poems took their time to grow, to work on me as I worked on them.  In the end, I couldn’t tell you if I made my SIP or my SIP made me.

I used Sylvia Plath as a touchstone.  I began writing poems in her style, but the more the idea of “writing like Sylvia Plath” began to take hold of me, the more anxious and terrified I became.  I was writing like Sylvia Plath, but I wasn’t writing like Kim Grabowski.  Instead, I kept the elements of Plath’s work that I love (an attention to structure and sound, an obsession with the body), but, ultimately, I had to go my own way.  Once I allowed myself to start listening to my instincts again, the poems finally began to take off.

Free from the strict frame I had originally proposed for my theme, I was able to explore the world in front of me.  I spent hours poring over Rumi, and started trying my hand at broad statements and meaningful questions.  Enamored with Nancy Eimers’ prose poems in Oz, I undertook a large series of associative prose poems—a “prose sonnet” (a form after Sherman Alexie that we studied when I took Introduction to Creative Writing at “K”).  I made the all-important discovery that I almost unfailingly need to begin the writing process with wide lines, in order to allow my imagination a fuller range of detail.  The work and development of a creative SIP is extremely relevant to students like myself, who plan to pursue writing on a life-long basis.  I needed the experience of creating a manuscript, of seeing a project to its fruition.  I finally began to learn how to go out into the world and find inspiration, not just sit around and wait for it to come to me.

One of the earlier poems I wrote was entitled “I have never seen city streets so green,” a narrative poem that dealt with a memory from my time in New York City as part of the Great Lakes College Association’s New York Arts Program.  What were then the final lines of that poem, “someday something/ will pick you up with its hands/ beneath your arms and set you/ back into your body,” became a guiding theme for the rest of my SIP.  The joys and fears of embodiment.  Moments of extreme bodily awareness that border on a feeling of mind/body dualism.  Navigating love as an embodied being.

That small poem became something akin to an epic poem, my own journey in New York City.  I brought it to workshop thinking my peers would tell me to “hone.”  They suggested the exact opposite.  What began as one frenzied block of narrative grew into an eighteen-page-long poem in sections.  This project-within-a-project was the greatest leap of faith I have ever taken.  It takes a staggering amount of courage and a certain level of belief in one’s own work to sustain something so large.  At first, I had doubts, afraid I would be spending huge amounts of time on a poem that could amount to nothing.  But, with Di by my side, reminding me that she had faith, I kept going.  It grew into my masterpiece, like a child I had been carrying inside of me for an entire quarter.  I kept going.  I kept going.

As a result of the process of that poem, its content, and the SIP as a whole, I am more resolutely and completely me than I have ever been in my life.  “The Other” is a study in self-discovery through relationships.  Others are a projection of self in the world with whom we, as constructed selves, are constantly in dialogue—we are always deciding what to be and what not to be.

Let poems be that for you.  Let them teach you things about yourself you never knew before.  Read them.  Write them.  Put them on like clothing.  Some will make you feel like you are standing far, far outside of yourself, and some will terrify you, because they will know you better than you know yourself.

Diane Seuss puts it this way:  “This is about poetry, yes.  But it’s really about what saves your life.”

I have given my life to poetry, because I owe it no less.  I can think of no better way to emerge from Kalamazoo College entirely transformed than with a senior thesis full of poems that will propel me into the future.  Poems that have saved my life.

 

 

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No Lighthouse

So, I don’t have a ton of time to blog tonight (do I ever?) but I thought I could at least update you on some goings-on regarding writing projects that I’m excited about.

My SIP is thiiiiis close to being finished.  Just about all I have to do now is format it in the official black folder and write my preface (which will be rather fun).  At last, I’ve come to a title that I love!  No Lighthouse. The last two words in the entire SIP.  Putting that final touch on it (I’m including a final poem that I did not foresee including, and it’s the perfect final exhalation after all the other poems), made it so much more real and exciting.

Meanwhile, I’m working on a new chapbook manuscript based on my consciousness and dreams class.  So far, I’ve written three new poems for it.  The poems I’ve written are based off of a handout our prof gave us indicating important details to note in our dreams (for instance: Aggression: indicate if there was any aggression in your dream.  If so, who initiated it?  Was the aggression physical or verbal?).  So far I have the poem corresponding with objects, (entitled “Chocolate cake”), one for aggression (“True crime TV”) and one for sex (“Me watching me on some kind of recording”).  I also plan on writing several poems with the titles “Theory of Consciousness” or “Dream Theory.”  The title of the manuscript will be Theories of Consciousness and Dreams: Poems.  Never before have I undertaken such a honed project, let alone one that seemed to offer itself to me so completely.

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Nice to meet me

I was going to skimp out on you guys (whoever “you guys” are) again tonight, because I am facing the very real possibility of actually getting to sleep.  But the blog must go on.  (Also, I have clothes in the dryer.)

I’m gearing up to write the preface for my SIP, which is the kind of thing I will need to sit down and write all at once (that’s how I work for all papers, be they three page English papers or fifteen page philosophy papers), and it’s occurring to me just how different the person who began that SIP is from the person who is sitting here writing this right now.  I’m sure that my SIP played a large part in where I am today, and I am so infinitely grateful for that.

I have had multiple conversations with my highly differing group of friends and loved ones regarding my COMPLETE INABILITY to flirt.  I might have known how to, at some point…probably in high school.  It’s been a long time since I had a reason to know how to.  I conjectured that the reason why I hate it so much is because I have little to no self-confidence.  But, while I’m sure this plays a factor, that can’t explain it completely—I’m a poet.  I deal in risk-taking, in putting myself out there.  I am not one to shy away from doing something just because it scares me.  I think the real reason why I can’t seem to wrap my head around it is that I am finally starting to inhabit my own skin in a way that I never did before my SIP, and I will relinquish that complete and utter selfhood for no one.  I hate the idea of acting like something I’m not now that I finally feel so close to what I am.

Nowadays, I finally feel as though Kalamazoo College is a part of me.  I spent a very long time in complete denial of my own intelligence.  I will admit that my confidence on that end is not always unwavering.  Now, though, I say things in class because I truly believe that what I have to say is important, not because I want to participate enough to get an “A.”  After months and months of feeling like I didn’t even understand poetry at all (there was just something inexplicable about reading it, and making it, even when I had no idea what was happening), I am comfortable with my own knowledge of it as well as accepting its inherent mysteries.

I couldn’t tell you exactly how my SIP did this to me.  Maybe it was just the simple fact of conquering a huge obstacle (I wrote one poem in sections that is seventeen pages long!  I never would have had the courage and the belief in my work to stick with something like that before).  Maybe it’s the fact that poems teach you about yourself not only through what you do say, but (perhaps more importantly), what you don’t feel ready to say.  All I know is, nowadays, that person taking notes in existentialism and film, or TA-ing Intermediate Poetry, or writing poems in Psychology of Consciousness and Dreams—that person is none other than Kim Grabowski.

I absolutely do not mean to convey that I’m thinking “Aha!  I’ve arrived!  I know myself now!”  That would just be horrible.  And boring.  I’m sure things will change, I’m sure my self and I will have tiffs and disagreements, and sometimes we may even stop talking.  All I’m saying is that it’s nice to have finally met.

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Here’s a cookie.

Oof.  I seriously feel like I am on drugs, I’m so tired.  Consequently, I will probably write like I am.  I almost wrote: “winter skin-split-cuts.  When do they happen?  How do we not notice them until later?”  Yeah.  Great for poems (I have written three in the past twenty-four hours, which is a lot for me), not so great for intelligible prose.  Instead, I’ll give you this link to the recipe for my favorite cookies:

www.cleaneatingmag.com/Recipes/Recipe/Almond-Butter-Chocolate-Chip-Cookies.aspx

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