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Five-minute poem.

Like “Nectarine,” “Cancerous,” “Pursuit”

If you were a word I’d choose you
to lay sweet on my tongue like sugar
and flop out into the dashing sunlight
and press your body against a foreign ear.

You like a flouncing young prince
not yet certain of your responsibility
would be a reckless word, the sort a speaker
less easy than I might question once it left,

might wonder should I have kept this
saucy, belligerent word to myself,
should I have freed it into the world?
Was it ready? You would have been.

I wouldn’t regret you if you were a word.
I’d celebrate your sugar swirl on the air,
your lingering taste on my tongue, pleasant,
your graceless certainty, your no doubt at all.
It's long past time I catch you up, dear readers, and pass on another challenge - this time, one for those of you who are not poetry-writers.

Many of you who followed my personal journal might remember my excitement a year ago this week when I discovered I had won the Carlson Creative Writing Contest for poetry, an event which has had some rather significant long-term and very positive repercussions on my life. I submitted again this year, for poetry and fiction. I work for the literary magazine on campus, whose submissions are the ones entered into the contest, so I got to see my competition for poetry and although my top picks didn't win, I hadn't been expecting to win in that category, so it's not a huge personal disappointment there.

Especially considering I got second place in fiction with my short story "three weeks no dreams" - and a second to my dear friend Megan (dweebulous), whose incredible and deserving story "Cicada Song" I had gotten the privilege to read and workshop in the very fiction writing class from which my own story had emerged.

See, I'm not really a short-story writer, much less realistic short fiction. My plots tend to be overambitiously large, and while several of my friends have expressed envy for the seeming ease with which I've been pounding out novel-length works for the past ten years (yeah, that's half my life), I genuinely do envy them their abilities with short fiction. That said, I'm proud of myself for managing to keep "three weeks no dreams" from turning into a novel. It's my first truly successful short story, and I'm very satisfied with it, although I'm going to continue working on it in Advanced Fiction Writing and seek publication for it elsewhere.

Also in my writing successes and ambitions, I've auditioned for a column spot on the college newspaper. Megan also just today won first in the Illinois College Press Association Awards for one of her columns - she's an immensely popular feature in our paper, The Leader, which as a publication won second for general excellence in our division. Our orientation issue also got first place of all Illinois colleges' special supplementary issues (not just our small-school division).

And my friend Jake and I have started the exciting process of worldbuilding and sketching out relatively rough plots for what we have affectionately dubbed "the space epic," a sci-fi with a western feel and a political spin. I don't know what medium this will end up turning into, or how long it'll take us to actually get to work on it, but it's ... well, epic.

Now, for you, dear readers,

(a) Again, I would love to hear what you're writing about nowadays, or about which of your own projects - artistic, social, academic - you are most excited at the present.

(b) The challenge, which stretches over the next two weeks (until 3/6): In five hundred words or less, create a character whose personality is as far from yours as it can be. I want to see the moment in which this character realizes something unpleasant about themselves - but I don't want these to be unsavory, pathetic, or unlikeable protagonists. I'm not looking for criminals or the terribly dirty-minded (not that I expect that, being as you aren't a particularly clean-minded bunch...)

A large number of unexpectedly spectacular things have happened to me so far this semester, ranging from gaining a sense of camaraderie with fellow students to vast realizations about myself to chance meetings to weekends where I ship myself to another city and write forty pages of my beloved novel.  The majority of these things I hadn't ever conceptualized, and therefore had never had the chance to wish for them.  This has gotten me thinking a lot about how strange wishing is, and how ridiculous, in a way.  As hokey and dramatic as it may sound, I know that my state of being wouldn't be half as brightly illuminated if I had gotten the things I wished for instead of the things of which I hadn't dreamt.

On the other hand, even if the wishes meant something different than they did, I know that I wouldn't have been happy if I hadn't wished for anything at all.  As necessary as spontaneity is, the point of wishing is to begin conceptualizing a future - any future.  You're never going to get the right one.  [If you are as geeky as I am, you may wish to insert an IDIC reference here, friends.]

I have plenty of far-off wishes that haven't yet had a chance to solidify or dissipate, and despite this knowledge of how ridiculous they'll probably see when I get the things I didn't know I wanted, I'm not going to stop.  In part because there's something to be said for ridiculousness, and in part because these abstract things I'm wishing for - specific jobs, family, projects - are my motivation.  I'm really fighting for a future completely different than the one I'm imagining, but just because I can't name or imagine or qualify it doesn't mean I don't want it, and certainly doesn't mean I don't have to fight to get there.

So maybe the part of my future I call "Izzy" will actually be "Carter" or "Vincent" or "novel" or "vegetable garden" or "second-grade Waldorf classroom in Puerto Rico" - but I'm building towards something.  It takes imagining what Izzy will need for me to want to be a better person - and as long as it continues, I move closer towards being a person someone will need.  That's enough.

tl;dr?  Here's my challenge for you:

Write a poem situated around one or more of these ideas - wishing, unpredictability, human beings not knowing what they want, what our minds are able to conceptualize, fighting for an ideal that doesn't exist, fruitlessly trying to capture the unimagined future - you get the picture.  This could be sweeping and insightful or twisted and personal or anything in between.

And I'm going to restate: this isn't a contest; you don't have to consider yourself a poet, you don't have to be embarrassed.  If you really don't want to, you don't even have to share it with us.  But I'd appreciate if you'd at least let us know that you've done it.  (I promise I won't pressure you to show it off if you don't want to, friends.)

Who's done it?

Rae rcn412 's untitled (in comments)
Megan dweebulous 's A Writer's Prayer
(I'll have my own sometime this weekend, but it'll be flocked - so friend me if you haven't already, Dear Readers!)

love poem to self

radio stars

myself saunters in like a bird out of the rain
green like the sky and unannounced.
shoulderblades full of feathers and eyes
made of sine-wave arcs, sable and splendid.
myself is all wrapped in muscle and cloth.
even on clear days, myself gets admirably
ruffled at the mention of even the best-fated
infidelities.  myself stays five-foot-seven even
when the rest of the world is monstrous, a constant
inside a variable, and when going through tunnels
myself funnels held breath into wishes for others.
myself's burning lungs are twelve first stars,
the radio warping in and out but myself still
chanting a hundred blessed names in silence
still as the concrete cocoons, emerging to a sky
with shouts and laughter, beloved and loving.
myself knows the difference between the whole story
and the whole truth, dancing side to side, eyes
pulling the two together with careful stitches.

Lately I've been trying to write the same poem over and over again.  It's definitely a love poem, and although the details change, I'm beginning to realize that often the root of these things comes down to a concept frustrating to me as a writer.  Namely:

"I wrote my first novel because I wanted to read it." - Toni Morrison

Similarly, I love the song "Hey There Delilah" not because of its musical style or even necessarily its lyrics - I love it because I want it to have been written about me.  And I'm writing this love poem over and over again because I want to receive it.  Tonight I've decided that the next step is to stop dreaming about other people who haven't confessed their love for me and start writing a poem confessing my love to myself - which sounds like a cliched self-help technique, but I feel like it's really significant for me.

How to explain it... I've described myself in the past as an egotist.  I don't feel as if I have low self-esteem (except perhaps when it comes to my social finesse) - I consistently think of myself as intelligent, competent, creative, et cetera.  But these things have always been straightforward, and never nuanced.  Never, certainly, poetic.  I've spent a lot of time rhapsodizing about other people, generally people who have no idea I'm writing about them (at least until after I've fallen out of love or have determined the feelings are unreciprocated).

My task for the week, for myself but also for all of you: let's write love poems to ourselves.  Not poems that we want other people to be writing, and without being self-conscious about the dangers of the ego.  And let's share them.
Let me know if you intend to participate so that I can hold you to it!

Megan Kirby's dizzying
This summer I attended Campus Pride, a queer leadership camp in Towson, Maryland.  Whilst there, I wrote what I thought were the last poems of Holding Back the Ocean, the queerish poetry collection that accidentally documented the spectrum of realization of and coming to terms with my asexual identity.

While I wrote the first poems of this collection, I identified as a homosexual female, and this was meant to be an anthology of dyke poetry.  Get it, the name?  I have scribbled in a notebook somewhere: DYKES: Holding Back the Ocean (probably with an LOL in its vicinity), and I liked it so much that I adopted it for the collection.

Since I wrote that first poem, three wishful-thinking sex dreams, the lines of identity I used to think of as so straightforward have become beautifully, hopelessly blurred.  I identify now as asexual and panromantic, and I recognize the ways in which I have always been "ace/pan", which let me just say was and continues to be really confusing.  I started this transition (as friends from my personal LJ can attest) with a militantly asexual aromantic identity; I didn't want to be in relationships anymore at all.  As I exposed myself to the small but very real asexual online community, I began to realize that I'm totally not aromantic - that was just wishful thinking, in a way, a desire to simplify and, in my relief that there was a word for me somewhere, I leapt towards embracing what I thought asexuality was.  It made sense, too - until a couple weeks ago, I had never really even imagined getting married.

I've shifted my comfort zones again, pressing at the boundaries of imagined relationships.  Recently I've also been tangoing with ideas like polyamory and gentle genderqueerness.  I've written through all of it - and so I can look back at poems I wrote that were sexual, poems I wrote that were aromantic, all these phases of identity understanding through which I've passed.

Back to the book - the problem is, I haven't organized these poems yet, and while since timing was very important on these I want to do a lot of them chronologically as they were written, I've just been having trouble convincing myself to go through the work of putting them in order and making them a manuscript - and until I do that, I'm still writing poems, so it's not over yet.

To sum it up:

(Uh, warning, the first poem is R-rated?)

the first love poem written for the collectionCollapse )

the latest love poemCollapse )

today's poem


(the hills will not want to be born
on a silver morning
with dead fawns in the grass
the masochistic majesties of their shoulders
will curve inwards
and insist on being plains
until the blood has washed away)

I have been struggling with a particular scene of Keeper for weeks now, and last night I finally figured it out.  Ready to get moving again - but today I'm out on my uncle Kevin's mushroom farm (and at the Avon Arts Festival), and so it will just have to wait until tomorrow.

But oh, tomorrow...

Well, then.

This poem, finished about two minutes ago, comes from a recent Writer's Digest prompt.  Is it super-obvious what that prompt is?

blessed sweet unforgivenCollapse )

Welcome to my newest specimen of poetry.

As many of you know, I'm writing a "queer-plus" poetry anthology called Holding Back the Ocean.  With the helter-skelter assortment of other responsibilities - full-time school and all the associated homework, multiple organizations, writing for the student newspaper (book reviews and play reviews), five-days-a-week part-time work, and at least one novel - I often end up short on time to actually write these poems.  Since I've gotten quite insistent with myself that I have to write every day, what quite often happens is that I go to bed, prop up my head with pillows, pull the topquilt over computer and head so that the light doesn't bother Aislin or Madi, and write a poem.  Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, I'm often half-asleep by the time I get to writing.  Sometimes I wake up in the morning and find on my desktop a poem I have no memory of writing at all.

Some of my favorite poetry comes from this process.  For example:

winged onesCollapse )
I'd like to welcome you to the first annual Teresa Doyle!  Please find namebadges and praise attached to your fingertips in the form of a keyboard.  Feel free to pick up a brochure - they're hiding back there behind the friendslist-only option.  This year we're going to explore a variety of topics, including fiction and poetry, outdoorswomanship, allergy-friendly cooking, social justice, queer issues, humanism, mysticism, animal rights, educational reform, binaryism, mythology, theory, news, mental illness, and urban exploration.

We've got a range of exciting guest speakers lined up for our writing seminars, including Teresa Doyle, author of "Holding Back the Ocean", Teresa Doyle, winner of the Carlson Creative Writing Contest for Poetry, Teresa Doyle, editor of "Lit Kids: Mama Bird and the Electric Rabbit", and Teresa Doyle, a novelist in the process of finishing her first original fantasy trilogy.  For queer theory we'll have an interview and Q&A session with Teresa Doyle, an asexual college student, and for today, a special surprise: a few words from Amadriel Lucille Emmaline Wilhelmina Doyle, who we've recently discovered is in the running for the World's Best Cat Contest!

MODERATER: Tell us something about your owner, Ms. Madi - may I call you Madi?
AMADRIEL: skahg93489b
MODERATOR: Is that so?