I just hauled my lazy ass onto the bike and pedaled up to the post office. In my right pannier were 10 books that I was going to mail back to myself. I had a moment of fear when I put them into the hands of the woman at the counter. Once I shipped myself a few books home and the envelope ripped open. How would I feel if I lost these books?
There is the complicated one on the history of [my dad’s field] that I read over and over again, trying to understand it. I look up every other word and then forget them by the time I get the nerve to pick it up again. The Age of Miracles, which is, as Averil and others of you said, amazing. And I found it at a thrift store here. Every sentence in the book belonged there, neither overstated or understated. This is how I want to write.
There is the Anne Sexton Book of Death I found at the same thrift store. I haven’t read Anne Sexton in years, but she makes me think of grad school, when I read Transformations for the first time. I looked across the Boston Common and thought about Sexton, Sylvia Plath, Maxine Kumin, and George Starbuck drinking martinis at the Ritz Carlton after workshop. I have never been to the Ritz Carlton.
Each book is something I want to do or want to be. I want to write with the specificity of Jeannette Walls. I want my writing to be both poetic and gripping as Cheryl Strayed‘s. I want to write about politics as well as Adrienne Rich did. And let’s not even talk about Tracy K. Smith—I want to be able to write poems like her so badly that I can taste it.
I miss these books already. I miss looking at their titles and being reminded that I should write in scenes, I should be poetic but not so much that I lose the grasp of the story or the attention of the reader, and I should remember that the personal can be linked well to the political.
What are your intentions?