Monday, June 05, 2006
Dark Triple Death Goddess
I have one secret to writing poetry that I give all my students and it's a pretty simple, but effective one. If something isn't really working, add Johnny Cash. It still might not work, but it improves whatever you have. The teaching of writing is one of those hotly debated subjects that people go round and round about -- Can it be taught?
My first writing teacher was a lovely sweet man who wore massive amounts of turquoise jewelery and nursed a desperate crush on Kathleen Turner and spoke of women as "dark triple death goddesses." He'd smoked a lot of pot, had married a lot of women, had written tons of poetry, and had really lived in that Zorba the Greek sense of the word. In class, we'd read our stories on workshop day and discuss them as a group. I nearly died when my first story was met with dead silence. I had no idea what it meant and neither did anyone else. I wanted to emulate a woman having a nervous breakdown in the story. God help us all, because I was having one in front of twenty-eight other students. A few comments were made, mostly to the effect of "huh?" and I sat back down. I wrote a few more nervous breakdown stories -- write what you know! -- but they eventually became more understandable. By the end of the class, I had a sense that the words on the page had to mean something. And I was a dark triple death goddess! Hot damn! Writing could be taught. The Johnny Cash tip, though, is all my own.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"And when the vision comes, I find that, ready to do battle, I am running: obsessively running." Frederick Exley, A Fan's Notes
Triple Death Gooddess
1 part godiva chocolate liquor
1 part Baileys
1 part Kahula
1 part coffee
Benedictions and Maledictions
What’s For Supper?
The Last Supper hung over us as we ate
instant mashed potatoes and pork chops,
Johnny Cash on the radio and he’s busted --
the bills are all due and the babies need shoes --
prisoners cheering him on in the background.
Things were tough all over, something we
said a lot in those days. No one used the word
grateful until they’d lost something valuable
and became aware of how much more there
was to lose. It could have been worse, something
else that got repeated a lot. For dessert, we’d
have vanilla ice-milk sprinkled with Nestle
Quik chocolate powder, and we were grateful.