Poetry, Writing

When All Else Fails

I don’t have the words today.

What I mean is, I have nothing illuminating or interesting or amusing of my own to share.  I’m just not in the mood.

So I’m going to leave you with some more bits on Warsan Shire.

I’ve made no secret of my fascination with her. And through the clouds that continue to linger over me, I’m starting to realize why.  I don’t have the words today, so I can’t tell you exactly what it is. Maybe later. But not right now.

Anyway, enjoy these interview excerpts I rounded up:

List 3 things that have made you a better poet?

1. Not competing,

2. not comparing,

3. being honest (even if the truth is perhaps a little shameful, a little painful)

from “Ask a Poet” by Indigo Williams. Read the rest here.

Any writing rituals? What is your writing process like? Do you keep a journal, write before dawn…?

I write when everyone is asleep. I write with music. I never plan it. But it is a very constant. It feels organic. My poems come to me in images, like film. I can see it very clearly and then this overwhelming urge to write out best what I just saw comes over me. I write best with free writes, where I refuse to edit what is leaving me, where I write within a specific time frame. I refuse to obsess over it, and if it doesn’t come out easily, then I leave it. I don’t write for an audience. I don’t write under pressure. I’m thankful to take my time. The poems happen to me. Sometimes I have no actual idea where they have come from.

from “To Be Vulnerable and Fearless” by Kameelah Janan Rasheed. Read the rest here.

How did you develop such an acute sense of observation (about human nature in particular)? Is it something that came naturally to you or was it something that developed over time? Is that sense of observation perhaps what drew you to write in the first place?

I’ve always been very observant; I’d rather listen than speak. It’s overwhelming, the amount of detail I see in really mundane scenarios: strangers touching one another; someone arguing on the phone; a man falling asleep on the train. I’ll fill in the gaps of the story myself. In my mind I’ll follow them home, I’ll imagine their childhood, what their bedroom looks like, if they are in love with someone who does not love them. The downfall is that I give everything (and everyone) too much meaning. Sometimes a thing is vacant and I’ll create depth for it; that’s not always fair.

From “Warsan Shire’s Raw & Vulnerable Poetry” by Anya Wassenberg for OkayAfrica. Read the rest here.

And finally, listen to Warsan herself read her poem “What We Have” here (fast forward to the 23:30 mark, though the rest of the discussion is fairly interesting if you like poetry). I’m thinking of getting the last line of this poem tattooed on the inside of my left arm:

The only darkness we should allow into our lives is the night, and even then, we have the moon.

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Personal, Poetry, travel

Excuses For Why We Failed At Love

More from Warsan Shire.

This video makes me want to go to France. My parents took me to Paris when I was two and a half.  My father likes to tell the story about how, in the crowded Eiffel Tower elevator, I looked over his shoulder at the city below us and said, “Uh oh.”  My mother likes to remind me that I made friends with the German girl whose family stayed in the room next to us. And Japanese tourists at Versailles wanted to take pictures of me.  “Maybe they’d never seen such a cute Black baby before, I don’t know.”  I haven’t been back to Paris since. I know I’ll make it there some day.

My excuse?  Oh, there are many.  Too many to bore you with right now…

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