a propos of nothing

There are places I remember

I’ve been talking a lot lately with folks about memory and its absence, perhaps brought on by the finals-week tinge of amnesia. There are many things that I don’t remember, but remember again when placed back in the place where they took place. I remember the place – and the place remembers the rest.

a propos of nothing, writing

At long last,

I finally wrote a thank-you letter to Stephen King. Check out Premium Harmony if you haven’t – it’s positively O. Henry. I reread his interviews in times of particular selfpityingness, and they always have the effect of getting me back to work. I like his short fiction, I like what he has to say about writing, and I like his prose style most of all. I wish I could get through more of the horror.

Anyway, I’m glad I did it. I just took out a blank card, wrote a few things on it, and that was that. I’m going to have to go put it in the mailbox soon: having an envelope addressed to Stephen King in my room is creepy.

I look forward to being older, less squeamish, and able to read more of his work. I think it’s like eating spicy food: you have to let the tastebuds die. I’m going to check out Lisey’s Story, I think, when I’m done with work. He wrote it in the aftermath of his accident, and it sounds like a good one.

a propos of nothing, Baltimore, gradschool

the morning after the night before

Last night, department holiday party – shades of ON BEAUTY. I feel relentlessly adult, attending a department holiday party that is not my father’s, but my own.

It’s snowing. It’s Baltimore and it’s snowing. Unlike with rain, I always wonder how the sky doesn’t run out of snow. It seems so laborious to produce.

Some days, days when lots of work needs to be done and words placated, you start the day by losing your phone, and spend an hour and a half looking for it, before you discover that you dropped it inside one of your rain boots.

Still snowing. Downstairs, my roommate and friends are singing and playing acoustic guitar, a Saturday-morning service. The sound of voices and strings.

a propos of nothing, gradschool, poetry

We are seven

1) The last day of classes is Monday.

2) Of late, the writing of papers has gotten me into some silly situations – when you find yourself flipping through a Collected Poems and muttering all the last stanzas aloud to see if you can find hidden ballad meter, you may have gone too far. That’s not to say I’m not going to keep doing it.

3) Outside, it rains.

4) Fiction is all about quotation marks and how to display them. This becomes clearer the longer I have to teach it. I never would have thought they would be so problematic – but they are! You could spend the rest of your life puzzling over quotation marks.

5) I saw the moon move across clouds like ice-floes one night a few weeks ago, illuminating a small searchlight of a circle as it drifted (yes, I know, the clouds are moving, not the moon) after a graduate reading, and it occurred to me that, rather than attempting to capture the movement and the light of the moment in theatrical presentation, I now have to try to capture those things in words. The impulse is the same, but the method is different. If it is to be captured at all, of course. Delusional. The moon: observed in captivity.

6) Poetry is sometimes about taking out the words.

7) words

a propos of nothing, the chorus, writing

in case you couldn’t tell

it is difficult to blog about the program. That’s why I haven’t been doing it. You would think that writing about writing would be a natural extension of writing. It is not. For me. Doesn’t work. One precludes the other.


You would also think that I could write about the program itself, and that might be something in which people would be interested. Right? But every time I begin to do it, I feel as if putting anything up here at all violates the trust of the people I’m here with. Even the most boring activities. If I were, for example, to say “We had seminar today” (which we didn’t) I don’t at all know that my friends here would want others to know that. Writers = private people. Even I find myself becoming more introverted with each day here.

So I guess you shouldn’t expect me to say much for…what? Two years?

I could say that I like it here. Every time people ask me how the program’s going, I say, “It’s wonderful, I’m very lucky to be here.” Which is true. And when they ask how the people are, I say, “They are amazing. I love them.” Also true. When they ask me how the writing is going, I say, “I am questioning everything.” And that last, so help me, is the truest of the three.

I could also say this: I get to talk to a professor and students on Saturday about choruses, with regards to their performance of a Greek play, which should be fun. This is my third chorus outreach-related activity in four months in B-more.

I also think I might be able to make some general observations on what it is like to be a graduate student. General observations on Baltimore are going to be limited, because while school is in session, I almost never leave the Homewood campus bubble.

I’m going to try, though, because I need to keep writing here.