Sunday, December 19, 2010

Reverb 10, the one where I take a risk

December 19 – Healing. What healed you this year? Was it sudden, or a drip-by-drip evolution? How would you like to be healed in 2011?

(Author: Leoni Allan)

I'm going to play make believe and pretend that this post has something to do with the Reverb 10 prompt for today. Really, I'm just writing.


Slowly, so slowly that it's like dragging a bare, flogged ass through salt, I am trusting in my work, making the time and finding the courage, to send poems out into the world, to share fiction excerpts with friends for feedback. Last summer (I've already written about this), I submitted a couple of sample poems to Scott Woods, who was the poetry juror for the German Arts League's annual The Language of Art exhibition in Columbus, Ohio:

This year the Language of Art's poetry portion of the exhibit will feature work based on the visual art that is juried and selected for exhibition...ekphrastic poetry! Poets who are chosen to participate will be randomly matched with a piece of art from the show. Poets may write in any style as long as it is not offensive and as long as the poem is no longer than one page in length. The poems will be placed next to each of the assigned artwork for the duration of the option of the exhibit. Poets have the option to read their piece during the opening reception but it is not mandatory.

I sent my poems out well before the June 30 deadline and promptly forgot about the whole thing since my daughter's active and creative summer life made it hard to remember I even had a self.

The week leading up to the Sunday, Aug. 1, opening day of high school marching band camp, my daughter, her dad and I were consumed with preparations. The right shorts, shoes, snacks, sunscreen, hats, bandanas, socks, anything to help her get through the week without falling over from exhaustion and heat stroke, her music, drum sticks, section T-shirt, all needed gathering or purchasing.

I had also agreed to bake 3,000 cookies (OK, that's an exaggeration - I baked something like 12 dozen), drive up one day to help on the field or at the front desk in the dorms, another day to gather donated food and drive it up in time for the traditional Thursday night band camp dance, had agreed go up the day of the dance to help decorate, etc., etc.

In other words, the week of band camp, I belonged to the high school marching band boosters (I was grateful no one tricked me into organizing band camp).

At about 11 p.m. the night before the Girl's dad and I drove her and her friend A to Kenyon College, I received an email from Scott Woods.

I was "in" for The Language of Arts juried show. Congratulations, he wrote. My random artwork, no name included, was attached (but I'm a creeper and found him, anyway). Scott included the rules. No asking for another image, must be family appropriate, no more than a page, if we don't like it, we get to reject it, turn it in by Aug. 15.

Aug. 15. Two weeks to write a poem that would hang next to a beautiful piece of art. Shit, I thought. I really only had one week since I was committed to donating from Aug. 1 to Aug. 7 or 8 to the band.

I started laughing hysterically as I gazed at the email, looked at the beautiful photograph that was my random trigger for the ekphrastic poem I was now assigned to write, danced into the living room and told my kid.

"Go you!" she said. She really does love that I'm a poet, loves having an eccentric mother.

"But...oh dear! I have no time!" I squealed. "When am I going to write this thing? I'm busy every day this next week even though you'll be gone."

"You'll get it done," she said, wiser than wise. "You always do."

I wrote the poem the week after band camp, shared my original draft with the Girl's father (who made the suggestion that saved me). It was not my best piece, but it also wasn't my worst. Scott accepted the poem (if I had written a piece of crap, it would not have been in the show), called it awesome, gave me information about the opening reception and the reading.

I took my lovely friend Laura with me. I had my poem memorized because I am a shy girl, but if I let the words take over, I do all right performing my work.

When we got there and began viewing the art and the other poems that went with the paintings, photographs, sketches, I got chills.

"Oh my God, Laura. I'm in such good company! Compared to these people I suck!"

This is, of course, part of my process. I don't really get it, either, but I just have to accept myself as I am.

The talent in that little gallery was astounding, the written and the visual. My photographer (Tim Morbitzer) was not there, unfortunately. He was out of town. I wrote him to thank him for inspiring me, for letting me stretch my wings.

I'm not sure what's appropriate as far as linking and copyright, etc., etc. I'll risk posting both picture and poem since my written work is connected with the visual piece. You can find Tim's work here, but I have "stolen" the photograph on which I based my poem from my own hard drive:


sorry. had to delete poem.

(oh, man. this feels like self-promotion. I HATE self-promotion! My apologies. I'll be back to randomness tomorrow.)