Archive for the ‘nakedness’ Category:

The Sweetness in Fearless Writing

Dad 2004

“Some days I feel the ground shifting beneath me, the revelations bursting like fireworks over my head,” I wrote a few days into inviting the bogeyman of Dad’s mental illness onto my blog.

“I’ve thought that too much introspection was keeping me from my work. But I’m noticing that I’m suddenly finishing things and embarking on new ones: I graded all my papers yesterday, wrote to an editor about some work, took an assignment from another one, nailed down dates for my spring classes, got my open mic poets lined up. It’s as if sending this locked-up part of me into the illusory world of cyberspace has opened me. It’s still terrifying as hell.”

The rest of the post was about a night out with my dad. It’s a favorite of mine because it’s not about mental illness, it’s about us–our yelling, singing, hillbilly, opera-going father-daughter selves. And now that he’s had two strokes and is so much quieter, I miss the sweetness of that.

Read “Opera Night”…

 

Living with Bogeymen

The day after I put my secret blog post together about the Children of Suicide, I got emotional backlash. I had thought I could write about other people’s trauma, throw in some psychobabble, and remain unaffected. But facing the Bogeyman isn’t like that–even if you think you are only doing a research paper on the literary imagery of bogeymen, their varying cultural forms and their psychological implications. We’ve all got a bogeyman. If you are a writer, the question is, “What happens if I let him out? Will it scare up my most important writing or send me into therapy?” (Answer: Both.)

What it did was push me to write more detail on my bogeyman–something I’d been afraid and ashamed to do. And once you’ve written something, you can go the next layer. Just don’t expect to feel no pain. Seven years after writing this, it still makes my stomach hurt. Only you as the writer can decide whether it is worth it to write the thing anyway:

http://gardenofmirth.blogspot.com/2006/01/living-in-your-head.html

 

This is Not a Poem

This
Is not a poem,
so don’t go thinking it is.
Poems are loaded
with similes
like peach trees in August
and metaphor~
a naked man running.
But this is not one,
so don’t bother analyzing it,
writing exams about it,
or pretending to understand it

Naked

Now that I have your attention…

I’ve been thinking again about why I write. With THE SUMMER OF NO REGRETS so close to release, I barely have time to think about this. But every debut novelist has to grapple with “Me-And-My-Ego.” While I’m busy with promotion, it’s easy for me to get distracted by “Please love my book and say I’m wonderful,” as if that is the point of what I do. But since I have no desire to relive junior high (“What do you think of me? Am I pretty? Does my crush think I’m pretty? What can I do to make you like me?”), I have to consider why I really write.

It’s because I want my readers to look at each other’s eyes.

No, really. Really look. A book can help us do that, I think. We meet someone new–even if it’s a fictional character–and then maybe we can risk stepping out of our isolation or into someone else’s. A real someone. The girl at the next lunch table, maybe. Or the guy bagging our groceries. Or a friend we haven’t really talked to in a long time.

I wrote a bunch of poems at the Seattle Art Museum a couple of years ago, in response to the artist Cris Brodahl. I sat with her paintings for hours, watching people come in and out. They’d look at the work for a short time or a long time. She has this kind of layered thing she does, where she’ll put one painting on top of another, like this one called “The Fall.” The face behind is different from the face in front. And the painting is a nude so, yeah, lots of people stare at it for a while. (Ah, NOW you’re clicking the link.) Okay, so I’m not encouraging lunchroom nudity or anything, but I thought about the risk we take when we expose our true selves, when we say what we think and how we feel and who we are. And I wondered if it was worth it to do that. And I’m still not absolutely certain that it is. But sometimes when we do, we see each other’s eyes for the first time.

 

The Fall

When publicly undressed
You must
Remain serene.
Do not notice
The breeze across your belly,
Tightness of shoulders,
Weight of your breasts.

Pretend
No one stands, head atilt,
Scrutinizing the curves of your body,
Crook of an elbow,
The intermittent catch of your throat.

Imagine you do not lean
Over a precipice.

Instead, be rain,
Shale, Snow,
Small tumble that shakes the mountain,
Behind your face
A clandestine smile.

You alone
Know your secret tipping point,
How to slide out of view,
Hidden in your skin.

Rockfall,
Facefall,
Voicefall,
Freefall.

Do not mistake
Serenity for safety,
You, who chose this starkness.
Danger attends revelation,
Like a brooding lady-in-waiting.
Danger
Has her own secrets.

Wait
For the one who will stare into your eyes.
Hold still and do not look away.
The earth tips under both of you.
Let it.

Fall
Like a flame,
Like a dying star,
And do not be afraid.

©2010 Katherine Grace Bond