Beginning with Questions

I’ve written about 10,000 times on this blog that I always know when it’s time to write again because I start asking questions about what a poem is and what it’s supposed to do.

(It’s happening to me again.)

It makes me a fussy reader, first. I’ll try to read some things, but I’ll become easily frustrated if it seems like something I’ve encountered before, if the poem isn’t challenging or surprising me or if the voice is uninteresting.

Lately, I’ve been frustrated work that appears too autobiographical–in the sense that the poet seems to be recounting unmediated experiences from his or her real life.

Which is fine. I’m not here to tell anyone what they should or shouldn’t write, or hot to do it or not. It’s not my business. I’m just not interesting in doing that myself anymore. I want to do something else, somehow else.

I started doing a little research on something yesterday and it gave me goosebumps, made the hair on my arms stand up, so I’m going to move toward it, immerse myself in it, and see where it goes.

It’s tangential to the voice projects I have been working on, which seemed limited only to Dorothy Gale and Dorothy Eady, but that was fine, that was enough.

I’m like Madonna that way. I want complete reinvention every two years.


And I don’t even have to go to the mall (although I will anyway).

I’m telling myself to write a collection of short stories, each with a title corresponding to the titles of the tracks on Madonna’s Like a Virgin album.

I’m currently writing “Like a Virgin.” I’m about halfway through.

Other tracks, in case you need reminding:

Material Girl
[Like a Virgin]
Over and Over
Love Don’t Live Here Anymore
Into the Groove
Dress You Up

I’m a fan of structure. Anyone who tries to make plans with me knows that my weekend is booked by Wednesday. I’m interested in structure beyond the form of the text, but more in the form of the project. I just started reading Salvador Plascencia’s The People of Paper, which is a structural book akin to another favorite of mine, Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves.

And just as I warned everyone, once I started reading fiction again, I started writing it.