I have two more since the last time I posted, I think. Well, one of them (about my complicated relationships with the young women who worked in our house during my teens) is still in process, but the other (about the time I was assaulted) is done.
This is really getting at a lot of big stuff in my life, & my family’s life.
Following advice from other poets, I smushed the first two short poems into one. I wrote another in mid-June & got good feedback on it last week during my private conference with the workshop instructor. And I wrote two new poems for the cycle that week! A total of four thus far.
As I create individual short poems out of the content of that three-year-old long one, I’m finding that the incidents described take on MUCH more emotional force. Makes sense since now I’m not just mentioning/listing them but delving deep into each. Some are excruciating to read . . . but it feels as if writing about abuse suffered by my dad & his sisters when they were young, as I’ve been doing, honors their memory. I don’t think these terrible things were ever really mourned.
A few years ago, over a period of months I wrote a long poem exploring my “racialized” & “neocolonial” heritage & experiences – my German grandparents (immigrants to the U.S.), including my paranoid grandmother’s vocal anti-Semitism; my family’s social status & relationships after we landed in Colombia as white U.S. missionaries; my relationships with persons of color as a teen & adult, up to the present.
This 8-page poem has not yet been published. At one point I stuck it into my collection of Colombia poems, but last summer M.E. urged me to either cut it way back to make it less “talky” or take it out. He was right; I chose the latter, as several chunks of it aren’t set in Colombia at all.
I have just started transforming it altogether! My thought is to create a series of linked poems, each of which could stand alone, each based on one event or relationship within the larger poem’s narrative. This week I wrote the first two! The first, triggered by hearing a couple of men speaking German behind me on the bus, is about my German grandfather; the next picks up some of the same imagery to picture his abuse of his two daughters, my aunts (who are both deceased now). I’m really happy with these & excited to pursue this project. Yay!