Poetry Dispatch No.155 | February 10, 2007
Readers ask: “Where are you lately?” — with the Poetry Dispatches, the Notes from the Underground, and new blogs on two websites www.norbertblei.com (months behind) and www.bleidoorcountytimes.com — even further behind , considering all I’ve been wanting to write.
Well, there’s much to be said for silent writing. But that’s another essay entirely.
I’m still here. And the work is “being done” (in notes, in my head, in my few hours of dreamtime each night) though there has been little to show online the last two weeks.
Some of my energy lately has been diverted to preparations for my annual, week-long (favorite) writing workshop at The Clearing, here in Ellison Bay, where I have taught one week every June since the 1970’s. A year’s work goes into this: reading, planning, note-taking, ‘recruiting’ (as I see it) writers (all ages, all kinds), especially those trying to find the way through themselves, their work, their personal lives, some “thinking” they want to write more than anything else, others knowing and needing to do it, but not sure #1. They have it in them. #2, They can afford to sacrifice what it takes to spend a life doing what you love for little or no reward—financial or just plain recognition. THAT’S the tough one. And because I’ve lived through all of this, much of the agony, some of the ecstasy, love to write, love to teach–I sometimes think I can help them –though I certainly don’t have any final answers. Occasionally I suggest: “It might help to take writing with me at The Clearing sometime.” And leave it at that.
Teaching anywhere is usually a hassle for me, but more to my liking at The Clearing than being hog-tied to an academic institution or other workshop atmosphere where one’s every move is monitored by some half-ass director or committee. I’ve never been good with administration. I always forewarn people intere4sted in hiring me: “Listen, I’m a pain in the ass to work with. Just leave me alone. Let me teach. I’ll give you more than your money’s worth. No bureaucratic bullshit, please, and we’ll be fine.” And The Clearing, through the years, has respected my wishes (mostly). Which is why I keep coming back, year after year. Why I may have taught there longer than anyone else at this point. Why it has something to do with the quiet beauty of the natural setting—the bluffs, the water, the woods–my love of teaching, and the writers who show up year after year.
To get back to the main thrust of what I’m getting at here…the silence at this end the past weeks, all the busyness of writing-related maters (publishing),. much of this Clearing stuff to get in motion, including a pitch to my former students to pass on the info for this year’s class to anyone they knew who was seriously interested in writing, cautioning them: “But no hobby writers, please.” A comment which brings both praise and criticism whenever I mention it. My point being, I don’t have time to deal with writers who only write when they take workshops; writers only interested in writing for fun and profit; writers who wanna to be writers but don’t wanna write; writers who don’t have the time; who want their name in print, but don’t give a damn if they have anything to say. And spare me, please, people who don’t read, have never read a goddam book of any value, never knew what it meant to live on the edge; never lived ‘without,’ never felt there’s more darkness than light. And writers who think ‘religion’ is the answer.
Writing is religion.
There’s more to say, but I’ve spent more time than I can afford on this already by way of an explanation, apology, practicing/preaching. But that’s how it goes. Gets done. Which reminds me of a poem…Norbert Blei
It Gets Done by Gerald Locklin
a friend of mine, george carroll,
has this phrase, “It gets done.”
he means it in the sexual realm,
that before the bar closes
you will somehow end up with a woman.
it always does seem to be the case for him.
somehow it never happens to me.
but I like the extension of his idiom
into other areas, like writing.
if you’re a writer, the writing gets done.
if you’re not a writer, it doesn’t.
the non-writer can site innumerable valid reasons
why it isn’t getting done,
such as wives, kids, jobs, distractions,
unconducive working conditions, broken typewriters,
and the heartbreak of unrelenting rejections.
the writer will,
in spite of all of the above,
no, let me return to the periphrastic passive:
it gets done—no one quite knows how.
from, CHILDREN OF A LESSER DEMAGOGUE, Wormwood Review Press, 1987