In-between Intro & Outro Tracks of 2020

Someone once asked, “For whom does the poet write?” and the response “Somewhere somebody is reading one of my poems.” But it’s highly possible that “no one is reading any of [my] poems, right now.” So, I’ll indulge myself.

1. Expand. What’s there to say! The universe gives in abundance.
2. Each year starts as a promise, I remember toasting with a glass full of hope.
3. Things unknown occupy space. No one can tell if it’s the beginning or end of a bad dystopian era.
4. This is NO writer’s retreat, a luxury of space and time. Yet the sun rises despite of everything and birds flutter their wings at my window.
5. Oh, the city! Madness is gallant. Every morn, I take a stroll and bypass the lunatic asylum.
6. A blackboard in my kitchen over spills with disappointments. A virus buildup I’ve been quietly tallying since the start.
7. This is a liminal space filled with anxiety, uncertainty and waiting, waiting, waiting…
8. How many clouds gather for a downpour?
9. Hopping back and forth in different rooms of Zoom is one of the Seven Steps to Accept Change.
10. This— I acknowledge privilege.
11. A friend asks how my family is doing. Family—I choke. For, where do I start? “F.I.N.E.” I respond.
12. We can do nothing. But sit comfortably with grief, for we are left to survive like lilies at the edge of a flooding river.
13. The country is lyric. Every night, I dance to the rhythm in between intro and outro tracks of the year.

note: As we wrap the year, and inspired by Rajani, I share excerpts of poems from a work in progress. I’m also linking to the Writer’s Pantry at Poets and Storytellers United.

On Questioning My Writing Poetry

Poetry…Why do I write it? Why I am struggling to write it, of late? Will I ever able to write it again or was it just a fling? Is there any difference between a diarist and a poet? If yes, which one am I? These are some of the questions that plagued me during my poetry writing funk, at the beginning of the year and with Covid outbreak.

Photo by Emily Morter on Unsplash

Poetry is my first love and my first choice of self-expression. Loving it and being my first doesn’t necessarily mean it’s always easy to write, far from it. Perhaps, like first loves the magic is in my naivety of thinking I’ll always be the centre of its attention.

Anyway, during that time I caught up on some reading, other poets as well as art and creativity, at large. I also came to a new realization about my own writing, and as follows:

1. Sometimes I’m a diarist

It hit me, when Billy Collins popped up on my computer screen advertising his masterclass and saying, “Poetry is a diary you want to share with others.” There it was, the source of my writing paralysis. To be honest, I was writing but I just didn’t feel liking blogging my poems or drafts. Perhaps, it was a result of not getting instant gratification (blog comments and community support) that made me feel as if I wasn’t writing.

2. How to be a poet!

I have Wendell Berry’s How to be a Poet bookmarked for listening on days I need a good reminder on how to simply Be. Not the names I call myself or titles given by others, because they can distract.

3. Embracing the season

I’ve mentioned before Wild Words as my go-to writing blog. So, naturally during my writing funk, I went back to the very first episode, and listened again. Because it was important to embrace the liminal space I was in.

4. On being suited to my calling

There is a chapter in Rachel Friedman’s book (pictured below) where she states that it takes time to find out whether one’s personality aligns with their passion. I certainly didn’t have to think hard about whether I’m suited to my “calling” as a writer.

But I did give a fair amount of thought on whether I was “holding [myself] up to a particular type of artistic identity” instead of being flexible and allow myself to explore other forms of self-expression and storytelling. This book, by the way, is a good investment.

5. I simply won’t stop writing poetry

When self-doubt creeps in, I remind myself why I write poetry. I also revisit some of the kind and generous words from readers, who get my writing. Because feedback like this carries me through, when I ask myself “What’s the point of it all?”

But enough about my insecurities as a writer. Instead here’s a question if you are a creative, what kind of artistic identity do you stay true to? Mind you, this is not to put you in some box. But perhaps a reminder to re-examine the “thread” that ties your work together, and stay true to yourself.

Staying in the Light

I meant to write about the moon, in summer. But rain, a tiresome stop-start and repetitive lock-down, saw me pluck an Asian bleeding-heart. With deaths, near-deaths and diagnoses so close to home, hands had clamped and ink dried up.

But October is always rich and full. Harvest moon saunters in on the first day, and emerges blue on the last as it hallows the ground and ushers a new month. As shadows scream swallowed by darkness so typical of November, I cling to Astraea’s embrace and departing words, “Stay in the light!”, for they say this winter will be hard.

– for Poets and Storytellers United, Writers’ Pantry