I am a poet because I sit down at my desk, at my computer, to ask questions I didn’t know I had in ways I didn’t know I could express. Often, that is the reason I get up in the morning–to explore that space. But sadly, the overwhelming amount of work I’ve been tasked with recently has hurt that writing practice (if you value your free time, don’t get a PhD). I’ve been unable or at least not in the right mental space to write. And now that some of that work has waned, I can be mindful about my practice again and work back into that space. And as I work into that space, I find it more difficult than I thought.
Unlike riding a bike, it’s like trying to find a path in a dense wood that’s grown over. I catch glimpses of the path, but then lose it, and I find myself wandering. Not that there isn’t value to that wandering–there certainly is. I just have more interest in wandering mindfully, wandering in a productive space. So I do what I always do when I’m in this situation: I turn back to my poet-mentors. I re-read Charles Wright and Tony Hoagland and Allen Ginsberg. It’s proving helpful, and it’s a potent reminder that we’re not lone voices out in the void; we belong to a rich collection of voices all sounding in relation to one-another, even if we don’t realize it.
There is some romance to the rugged lone voice, no doubt. I know the allure of the romance of the rugged individual better than most, and it’s a substantial effort to be aware of how woven into everything my experience–and my voice–really is. Something to embrace and celebrate, that intricate stitching. More than the appeal of the lone voice out in the wilderness, our writing becomes an important part of that larger effort and experience.