Friday, June 10, 2016

La Belle

After a long publishing hiatus, my poem “La Belle” was published a few days ago as part of the third volume of The Avenue, a special themed issue titled “Woman”. Here is a link to the Amazon page for it. There are a lot of great stories and poems here, and at 12 dollars, it’s definitely as much fun as 4 cups of coffee.

I just wanted to share a little bit about my poem and about what I think are the benefits of my current project of taking classes and getting geared up the take an MFA.

This poem was written as part of a poetry workshop class, run by the inimitable Karyna McGlynn, a year and a half ago. It was 15 or so really cool undergrads and me, sharing our work, helping each other get better, and learning a lot about poetry. Karyna is a successful poet and had a lot of great insights about the craft, but also the industry (if that’s the right word for such a non-industrial enterprise).

This poem is a good example. It’s an ekphrastic poem, which is something I wouldn’t have even thought of doing before this seminar and was originally written as an assignment for the class.

Of course, the first draft was pretty raggedy and that’s the other cool thing about workshop classes. Getting input from 16 thoughtful people (or even six thoughtful people and ten people who are obliged to pretend to be thoughtful) can only make it better. I am dramatically happier with the end result than I was with the first version. Thinking back, even the less pleasant or thoughtful of the classmates (and there weren’t many) still taught me SOMETHING over the course of the semester. 

The poem itself has just been published, so go check it out. The song that it is responding to is “Lady Marmalade”, by LaBelle (sound familiar?), which was Patti LaBelle’s vanity group from the 70s. It’s vaguely based on some actual experiences, from my time in Montreal in grad school, when I had a good friend who sung in clubs and did a very great cover of this song. I hope I’ve captured something of what the scene was like in Montreal for this kind of music, in this context. I also like to think it says something about the male gaze, which brings me back to themed issue.  Finally, and perhaps most of all, it’s about what lasts and what doesn’t last and how some experiences just exist outside of time.
In any case, check it out. The poem itself is unlikely to be such an experience for you, but you never know.