Sunday, July 8, 2012

Name-dropping (plus digressions)

can be a pretentious act for a writer, naming your influences, your allusions, your literary mentors. It can also be a wonderful way to discover new writers and thinkers, as I sometimes do when I encounter strange new names dropped like seeds scattered among the texts I read. You never quite know which one will take root in my literary imagination.

Some names dropped whose work I have yet to find: Frank Bidart, Patti Smith, Angela Rawlings, Nicole Brossard, Steve Savage, April Bernard, etc.

I've been reading bits and pieces of The Verse Book of Interviews: 27 Poets on Language, Craft & Culture (ed. by Brian Henry & Andrew Zawacki) and I found one entry particularly lucid and readable. It's by someone named Reginald Shepherd. And then I google him and find out he died three years ago. I want to look for his books and his work. There's a bio of him at Poetry Foundation. There's also a blog. Some poems of his can be found in either link, including from the latter: "You, Therefore" and "God-With-Us" which was the last poem he wrote.

I also recently bought poetry books by Erin Moure, whose work I encountered at the Poetry International website. I fell for "The Unseizable Elegy" and had to look for more. I bought three at once, the largesse coming from a different kind of feeling these days: I am on vacation and steadily shopping for clothes and make-up, things which I have previously resisted.

Why resist? I think beauty and the pursuit of it, especially as a woman, is an onerous task, a constant struggle. I have long ago decided that I lived a life of the mind, through books and stories and intellectual passions. I have been mostly indifferent to my flesh. I have also been influenced by a strange upbringing that taught me to fear vanity and uphold modesty, to see blending in as a way to stay safe, and to see my own womanhood as something to be kept in a locked box, for someday.

Well there are no somedays for me. And now I am learning to live within this body not as a soul trapped in a cage of flesh, but as an integrated whole. And that means being responsible enough to eat healthy food, to exercise regularly, and to be well-groomed and well-dressed. (The last one, I'm sure you'll agree, is the most exciting.)

Now this is a different kind of name-dropping. I've been scouring fashion blogs and tumblrs and along the way accumulating wants that snowball into need. Isabella Marant. Zara. Chanel. Well, reality, as always, fails expectations. I've been getting my usual fare, except simpler, and from mall stores instead of thrift shops. I've become so obsessed in fact that I wrote down my own fashion rules. (They're tailored to me and not to current trends or looks, so they're easy to follow, mostly about what flatters me, what I can comfortably wear, what fits my lifestyle.) 

So that's my life these days: poetry and fashion. We'll see which one sticks.  

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