Portrait of the Artist as a
Young Girl Woman – Age 34
When I headed to St. Louis for a 2 week writing workshop, I had not written anything new in, probably, a year. Acclimating to Baltimore, my new job were useful excuses for my “silence.”
I was headed to Africa to teach when I had to reject my acceptance to the workshop; I was out of my “new” job and not headed to Africa by the time the workshop allowed me to rescind my initial rejection. I had no idea where or how I would live when I returned from the workshop and I wasn’t optimistic about the possibilities I imagined.
Naming the trip “my last hurrah,” I delved in happily as soon as my first workshop leader assigned our project: select a historical event on which to develop a series of poems.
Like an old school Super 8 slide projector scenes from my childhood: the Atlanta Child Murders, the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster, Bernard Goetz the subway vigilante staccato’ed through my mind. I mostly knew the events through the barrage of images in the media and my preteen interpretation of those images which is perhaps why they were/are so poignant.
The mind’s eye, in the intuitive sense, is probably more accurate than 20/20 vision. Because it codes experience from multiple perspectives–pragmatic, emotional, physical.
The situation in which I found myself at the beginning of the project made fertile something that was ready. Ready, luckily, is not something we get to determine. Like the perspectives from which we code imagery, we can’t select, divide one from the others, partition or ignore any of them. That’s my theory. My reality is that I was only 3 years old when the residents of Jonestown Guyana were plastered on the covers of Time, Jet, and Newsweek. The images stayed in my head so solidly I could’ve sworn that I had been older.
The manuscript Marrow came in starts and stops during those two weeks–mostly stops. Then, for the next two years, un/der-employed I wrote, read, slept, worked out, tempering my frustration with my situation with each. My “last hurrah” will hopefully give birth to my first book. (I’m speaking it to confirm it).