Watching the August days scroll past, I think about last spring when, a la Scarlett O’Hara, I vowed to write a mountain of poems, to start a website, to find a publisher for book #2, and to do some custodial work on behalf of poetry.

Keats had a thing for them...

Keats had a thing for them...

As this soggy and work-filled summer careens to its inglorious conclusions, I wonder where the hours went. Interestingly, a lot of them went to po-biz instead of to my own poems, or teaching-related work instead of my own poems, or family responsibilities instead of my own poems. But the poems kept coming, luckily, else I’d have to step down from some worth-while projects. This daffodil picture? Remember spring? Yeah, I had big plans, including to weed my garden daily.

Instead, I went out last week amid the reeking green of our sodden New England August and pulled up all my tomato vines, blighted, poisonous to all future generations. I bagged ’em and Steve hauled ’em to the dump. It reminded me of what it’s like to abandon a draft; begun in electric-eyed inspiration, that high all writers know, but somehow later evolved to a useless knob, maybe ugly, maybe embarrassing, maybe even dangerous. Such a flawed poem could drag down a manuscript, sour a magazine to your name, make your poet friends snicker behind your back. Well, that’s the fear, anyway.

So what have I accomplished this summer? The Washington Prize contest process is finished, the announcement of its winner sent off to Poets & Writers; the second book did find a publisher and is due out next spring; and maybe a hill (not the dreamed-of mountain) of poems managed to dig themselves up, shake themselves off, and turn themselves over to my custody. We’ll see if I can keep them corralled.


Filed under The Writer's Life

2 responses to “

  1. Kim

    Hi Nancy,

    As I was recommending a book to a friend last week, I recalled how your class was the place I had discovered said treasure. A quick random search led me here, what a delight.

    Despite the many wonderful things your course introduced me to, and I recall it being the best course of my educational career (despite a couple of graduate programs since), it is your kindness I recall most. Thank you. Your students are lucky to have you.

    In a life of many experiences, your kindness and warmth stand out far above all the other teachers I’ve ever encountered. I haven’t written at all, after my thesis, in all these years but recently started a blog (at my mother’s urging, as she was ill, I did). You might get a kick out of it, I tried (at the beginning at least) to cut down my 4 page essays to 4 lines. I tried more for communicating hard-won ideas usefully, in my own voice, than for crafting literature.

    Hope you are well and blessed.


    • nancywhitepoetry

      Hi, Kim! What a delight to hear from you! I’m definitely going to check out your blog, and in the meantime wanted to thank you for such kind words. And hey– I’m really glad you remember a book from the class! Every teacher’s dream…. I’d write more, but I have a huge pile of papers to grade! But I’ll see you at your blog… All the best!

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