I'm hoping to leave town tomorrow (oh God. It's today) by 10 or 11 a.m. I'm heading to Ashland, Ohio, to Ashland University for my last MFA residency. This is the one where I defend my thesis, that manuscript of poems that talk to each other.
And they do, my poems, talk to each other. They talk to each other more than they talk to me these days.
I defend my thesis the afternoon of Thursday, Aug. 1, second poet. My dear friend, Sarah Freligh, defends Wednesday. She's going to set the bar high.
I know my work. I know how it came to be. I have learned so much more about poetry than I thought I could, even to know that I know nothing.
But when I stand up there in front of my committee and anyone else who chooses to witness my defense (chose an open defense despite my shy, introverted, recluse tendencies. I need my friends), how will I manage to articulate my experience? I've been writing and writing and writing toward this defense. I tend to draft things in the shower but never manage to get to paper and pen or computer soon enough to capture it. I'm a terrible public speaker.
I stutter and stumble and can't seem to get the words out around my awkwardness.
I'm going to have to perform. I'm going to have to play Elizabeth as a character or Elizabeth performing a poem. I CAN perform. I'm not wonderful, but I turn heads now and then. I surprise people because at ground level, I am mousy. Get me into a role or a poem or a persona, and I'm huge and loud.
So. That's what I'll do.
Now I just need to find time to shop for bread, cheese and produce and to finish those damned critiques that I know my classmates don't really need because they are awesome.
My lucky charm is a rap CD my daughter and two of her closest friends (well, one is her girlfriend) made for me. It's hilarious and raunchy and everything that anyone on the Ashland faculty might think is non-poetry. But these three girls invading my house at 11 p.m. or so, handing me this wonderful/terrible mix/loving me whether I'm their mama or their dear friend's mama, that's poetry. That's love. That's life. And even if I end up barfing into a bucket when I try to defend my terrible manuscript, I don't care. Because I have this CD and these beautiful girls.