MIXED FEELING MESS (some thoughts that emerged during a recent poetry interview)

I was recently working on answering a series of interview questions related to my POST-STROKE poetry chapbook (Blood Pudding Press for Dusie Kollektiv 5, 2011). That chapbook was the first new poetry collection to be written and created by me after my stroke, which happened early in 2010.  I had a tough time dealing with questions about it at this point in time, and so I needed to write some of my challenging thoughts/feelings out of my system before focusing on the specific interview points of view.  I will share those thoughts/feelings here on my blog – and then later, when the interview is posted on the Poet Hound blog, I will link to that.

Within the last few years, I have been a mixed feeling mess, about myself and others and life in general.  It’s hard for me to figure out and decide what I ought to be focusing on (aside from my poetry and art stuff) – and it’s hard for me to believe that anyone will be deeply interested in and able to tolerate me, except in small, short term doses. From family members to friends and even to significant others, I feel as if I’m not right for anyone anymore. I feel as if some people seem to think that I’ve focused on my health issue too much; whereas other people seem to think I don’t focus on it enough and should be more diligently making ongoing efforts at increased possible recovery.  For example, my ex-husband was tired of hearing about it after just a couple months – but then the next man I became seriously involved with after my divorce seemed to think I didn’t pay enough attention to my health, as if I should be primarily focused on that for as long as it took, even if it took the rest of my remaining existence.

I want others to allow me to make my own choices and to like me for WHO I AM. 

Not for whom I used to be – and not for whom they think I should try to be, by spending the majority of my time and energy and effort on repeatedly having my brain tested and scanned and researched and possibly improved upon in the midst of never ending medical stress.

Well anyone ever again appreciate and love me for WHO I AM RIGHT NOW?

(It hurts me thinking that the answer is probably know – that I’m not a very likable person – that I’m not good enough or fun enough or otherwise appealing enough anymore.)

On the poetry side of the spectrum, I am well aware of and understand that there are all different kinds of poetry out here – that some people will accept your style and some people will reject your style – that nobody’s creative work is going to be everyone else’s style. Personally, I’ve never aimed for main stream appeal or bill fitting poetry or vanilla snack pack pudding poetry (thus, why my press is named Blood Pudding Press). 

Despite being well aware of different styles and different tastes (and not caring whether I fit into them all), I got a bit bummed recently, in regards to a note I received from a press I had sent a query too, about whether they might be interested in partaking of my full-length poetry manuscript. My query had included a brief note letting them know how the title of my manuscript derived from my stroke – and then I also sent them three sample poems. 

They wrote back informing me that they thought the subject matter of my collection was too specific and might not warrant mass appeal, however they wished me health.  Well, of the three sample poems I had sent them, only one of those had been written after my stroke. It’s not like all of my poems focus on the subject matter of health or brain disabilities – and it’s not like my poetic subject matter has an obvious approach anyway.  My poetic content and style has never been very clear cut content wise.  If because of that, it doesn’t mesh well with their press’s style, then fine.  But don’t assume that the bulk of my poetic content and style is related to my stroke, just because I had a stroke and revealed that part of my book’s title derived from that. 

After reading that editorial response, I felt as if maybe I should change my manuscript’s title and remove every tidbit of my health background from my credits section - because when it comes to my poetry, I don’t wish to give the impression of being predominantly health-focused – because I’m not.  I want to be creatively poetry-focused – because I am.

However, I also don’t want to downright ignore or avoid significant parts of my life, as if they never really happened or barely exist within my brain - or not focus on them at all within my creative realm.  Thus, I honestly have found my health issue rather tricky in real life AND in my poetry life. My health issue did not largely change my poetry reading and writing style (except for slowing them down) – but my poetic content is mentally/emotionally based and the health issue certainly had an impact on those parts of me.

I’m pleased that I am still able to creatively express my thoughts/feelings/emotions/ideas through odd oodles of non-mainstream poetry. If I wanted to be a different kind of writer who was predominantly focused on my health issue, then perhaps I’d move away from poetry and try to focus on writing a real life story about my issues.  But guess what? That’s not what I want to focus on right now.

Still though, along such lines, when an interview I’m participating in is focused on my stroke, I do find myself wondering if most poets might not even be interested in reading this, because they’ll think its focus will be more about health than about art – and thus it will be rather boring and something that they’re just not particularly interested in.