I have been sending out a lot of work to journals lately.
Call it the unemployment crazies.
I even dusted off an old short story and polished it to a heady glow. The characters were surprised to see me; they stared at the light funneling in from the open Word window and squinted. I asked them how they'd been, they couldn't recall since they don't do anything when the file is closed.
I wrote some new lines for them and edited out the 21 year-old self's mistakes. To the best of my ability.
The least I could do.
Now I have to write an artist's statement. I hate artist's statements. This is what I wrote:
I am a poet. I should get that out of the way first.
Since poetry is a strange gray area between fiction and fact I should probably leave fiction writing to the fiction people.
But that gray area is important to explore. In doing so, I have found myself writing more prose. Prose-like things. Novels, even. And in doing so I’ve found that the two things are not so different. Poetry and fiction, I mean.
Poems are speaking of language, of emotion. They are about the unsaid and the need to be repeated. They are about a walk in the woods and not about that at all. They are ambiguity and concreteness combined. Poems take a word like ‘hello’ and inject it with strange otherworldly meanings.
Fiction does the same thing. But it shows its work. They are language laid bare. Emotion is coming from a person’s mouth there are “ hanging there to show us that someone is feeling this now. You are feeling this now. That walk in the woods is also about other things but there is the actual walk. There are stones you might stub a toe on. When fiction says ‘hello’ it is because there is a ‘goodbye’.
All of this is to say that I find writing to be world building. Poetry is impressionistic; you have to peer closer to grasp it. Fiction is bolder, is Turner, it tells its story and it seems straight forward and it may be straight forward but it spins itself from nothing so it is also magical. Writing is magic. Some of the only magic we have left. I always wanted to be a scientist but am bad at math. Writing lets me boil things in test tubes. It lets me set a world afloat in space to see if the parts work out.
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