At 394 pages, this is clearly unpublishable in any conventional sense… and it’s just one of what may someday be a ten-volume work. If you’ve been following along all year (thank you!) the main difference you’ll notice is that the blog titles aren’t there, and neither (obviously) are the links back to Phil Gyford’s wonderful site. I’ve always viewed those titles as extrinsic, just there because the blog environment demands them. The digest versions of the poems, however, cannot be excluded, since they do things like conform spellings to modern usage and suggest semantic breaks.
If anyone does download and read through this, please do me a favor in return for the free download: jot down the dates of your favorites and pass them along when you’re done. At some point when the diary is over, I may well put together a selection of favorite erasures.
At the office all the morning, and after dinner there again, dispatched first my letters, and then to my accounts, not of the month but of the whole yeare also, and was at it till past twelve at night, it being bitter cold; but yet I was well satisfied with my worke, and, above all, to find myself, by the great blessing of God, worth 1349l., by which, as I have spent very largely, so I have laid up above 500l. this yeare above what I was worth this day twelvemonth. The Lord make me for ever thankful to his holy name for it! Thence home to eat a little and so to bed. Soon as ever the clock struck one, I kissed my wife in the kitchen by the fireside, wishing her a merry new yeare, observing that I believe I was the first proper wisher of it this year, for I did it as soon as ever the clock struck one. So ends the old yeare, I bless God, with great joy to me, not only from my having made so good a yeare of profit, as having spent 420l. and laid up 540l. and upwards. But I bless God I never have been in so good plight as to my health in so very cold weather as this is, nor indeed in any hot weather, these ten years, as I am at this day, and have been these four or five months. But I am at a great losse to know whether it be my hare’s foote, or taking every morning of a pill of turpentine, or my having left off the wearing of a gowne. My family is, my wife, in good health, and happy with her; her woman Mercer, a pretty, modest, quiett mayde; her chambermayde Besse, her cook mayde Jane, the little girl Susan, and my boy, which I have had about half a yeare, Tom Edwards, which I took from the King’s chappell, and a pretty and loving quiett family I have as any man in England. My credit in the world and my office grows daily, and I am in good esteeme with everybody, I think. My troubles of my uncle’s estate pretty well over; but it comes to be but of little profit to us, my father being much supported by my purse. But great vexations remain upon my father and me from my brother Tom’s death and ill condition, both to our disgrace and discontent, though no great reason for either. Publique matters are all in a hurry about a Dutch warr. Our preparations great; our provocations against them great; and, after all our presumption, we are now afeard as much of them, as we lately contemned them. Every thing else in the State quiett, blessed be God! My Lord Sandwich at sea with the fleete at Portsmouth; sending some about to cruise for taking of ships, which we have done to a great number. This Christmas I judged it fit to look over all my papers and books; and to tear all that I found either boyish or not to be worth keeping, or fit to be seen, if it should please God to take me away suddenly. Among others, I found these two or three notes, which I thought fit to keep.
the whole year as large
as one kiss in the kitchen
Not here, no snow— unless you count
the tiny floating filaments that thaw
before they touch the glass
or the ground. Drypoint of trees
almost entirely bare.
Gardens, the campus, streets
quiet and grey. Flickering lights
at the corner drugstore
which is open only a few
Under the viaduct, a solitary duck
hunched into its cape of feathers.
Close your eyes: imagine the sound
of explosions far away against velvet
dark— all the beautiful bright colors
arcing upward before returning to oblivion.
But don’t read more into this than what
it is: the way the wind goes into the high
grass; the way, after you drain your glass,
someone asks if you would like another.
A few weeks ago on Twitter, poets Kelli Russell Agodon and Donna Vorreyer were talking about how much they missed the camaraderie of blogging circa 2010. So they started a revival movement to encourage poet-bloggers, especially those who have lapsed or strayed, to come back to Jesus poetry blogging and commit to posting at least once a week in 2018.
Since I’m already blogging about poetry at Moving Poems and sharing drafts of new work (these days mostly erasure poems) here, I thought my contribution could be to revive the old “smorgasblog” feature with a once-a-week digest of posts from across the network that catch my eye. I’m hoping some other participants might do the same. The official list of blogs may be found in this post of Donna’s:
It’s been a while, readers. It’s almost 2018, and I haven’t posted in over a year here. Which I miss. And I’m hoping you’re still there.
If you are, then stick around for what I hope you will consider good news. Many writers like myself found their first poetry communities online. By reading posts like this one and participating in forums (like ReadWritePoem), we built relationships and learned from one another. Since I do not have an MFA and have been primarily an autodidact when it comes to poetry, this was very important for me. And, although I now use social media to connect with a large literary community, many of us have been mourning (for lack of a better word), the opportunity to have access to each other’s extended thoughts on the writing life and poetry in general.
So, sparked by a Twitter conversation with Kelli Russell Agodon, and in honor of that more intimate connection that we so dearly miss, a group of writers have vowed to TRY to post once a week in 2018.
TRY is the operative word. Life happens. Some weeks are harder than others, busier, more complicated. But once a week, we will TRY to share something about poetry or our writing lives with you.
Donna Vorreyer, It Feels Just Like Starting Over
Blog posts topics you may see here and on other blogs:
I’m not sure about everyone’s motivations, but I find that if I have a community of writers to turn to, I stay motivated to write and share my process with others. The 2016 elections and the onslaught of trolls and bots has left me fatigued with and leery of other social media outlets, and so I return to my own private Idaho on the web–my blog!
Of course, blogging is another form of social media, but on my site, at least, I don’t have ads popping up.
Christine Swint, Writing in Community
Back in 2006 when I had two young kids and the Internet was young(ger), blogging was my lifeline. I would not have published my first book without the community of poets and writers encouraging me along the way. And, I enjoyed it. I enjoyed writing about new topics on a regular basis.
At some point, it became a grind.
This tour comes at a great time. My life is so busy that I am excited to make space for blogging. Lately, I’ve felt as if I’ve lost the ability to look forward, to wonder. Does that make sense? I lost that when I stopped blogging. Writing without limitations was an important part of my creativity, and I lost that when I stopped posting on a regular basis. It shows in nearly all of the poems I wrote in 2017.
This is a chance for me to reconnect with writers I love while recapturing a part of myself.
January Gill O’Neil, 2018 Revival Tour
Cleverly, this poem manages both to reject reality and to immerse itself in it. In saying what he wishes, the narrator takes a journey through the harsh reality of a father’s death… and not getting what we need from people in the end. The layers are impressive because in the poem, the father is out of touch with reality. The details in it are spectacular: “plastic shunt sticking out of his skull,” “a tuna sandwich you bought for him in the cafeteria” and “his calloused hands cutting up the beef for the pozole.”
Carolee Bennett, 3 more poems inspiring me right now to write / #amreading #amwriting
The poet’s subtle use of anaphora brings us back to the narrator, over and over: I think, I think, I wonder. Wonder itself is reinforced through natural imagery: the sky, planets, moon and mountains. The poem’s shape- short three lined stanzas stacked like waves lapping on a shore- gently alludes to the imagery. And although the poem references a father’s death and family trauma, we aren’t given all the details. Sometimes it’s the withholding of information where the poet lets the most people in.
Lorena Parker Matejowsky, who’s poetry blogging in 2018?
Your blood slows, your thoughts turn sluggish and you misplace your phone, despairingly search through the alley trash, raw and pink as any unfurred thing in the snow.
So much ache and sting; this numb, stale freezer burn.
Such a brutal hostage taking: this confessional spill of the body’s most intimate heat and light, this non-consensual vulnerability.
Lee Ann Roripaugh, A Poetics of Cold
Presence and attention create a kind of open water, encouraging what is new and not yet known to appear, like a whale spout or gleam. Our attention is wide, up in the crow’s nest, not down at the ship’s wheel, focused ahead. This produces a sense of impending discovery, giving pleasure and satisfaction in the work itself. And our presence is unique; the less distracted we are by false goals, the more likely our seeing will be original, un-beholden. Artists can have confidence, not in the questing, determined self, but in the sea-worthiness of “the craft” that carries us. Process is nearly autonomous. We don’t steer it, we learn to ride it. It’s also a gift, available to everyone, wind to a sail.
Rosemary Starace, Ships at Sea
During the dark and difficult times of my life, I try to return to my breath: its pattern, constancy and immediacy help to center me again. The ocean is like that, too, and because of the hours I’ve spent watching it in so many different temperaments and clothings — from the rocky Atlantic shores of Atlantic of New England, to the black volcanic sands of Iceland and the North Atlantic, the shell and sand beaches of Florida, and most recently the very different waters of the Mediterranean — I have new images of ebb and flow, of constancy and immediacy, that I find calming and helpful in the midst of so much that is not. […]
This has been a terribly difficult year for anyone who thinks and feels. I’ve made a conscious decision to limit my time on social media, and watching and reading the news, not only because I find much of the discourse toxic, but because it leads nowhere. We need to be informed and involved, but not to the point of losing ourselves. The bright lights in my life continue to be love, friendship and intelligent, searching conversation, the arts, and nature: I am so grateful for them, and look forward to continuing to find ways to communicate and connect as another year opens up to us. Thank you all for being there, and I wish you all the very best for the new year.
Beth Adams, The Sea at Year’s End
Lay very long in bed with my wife, it being very cold, and my wife very full of a resolution to keepe within doors, not so much as to go to church or see my Lady Sandwich before Easter next, which I am willing enough to, though I seem the contrary. This and other talke kept me a-bed till almost 10 a’clock. Then up and made an end of looking over all my papers and books and taking everything out of my chamber to have all made clean. At noon dined, and after dinner forth to several places to pay away money, to clear myself in all the world, and, among others, paid my bookseller 6l. for books I had from him this day, and the silversmith 22l. 18s. for spoons, forks, and sugar box, and being well pleased with seeing my business done to my mind as to my meeting with people and having my books ready for me, I home and to my office, and there did business late, and then home to supper, prayers, and to bed.
cold full of doors
not so much a church as a paper chamber
I place myself in the world
among books and spoons
Up and to the office, where we sat all the morning. Then whereas I should have gone and dined with Sir W. Pen (and the rest of the officers at his house), I pretended to dine with my Lady Sandwich and so home, where I dined well, and began to wipe and clean my books in my chamber in order to the settling of my papers and things there thoroughly, and then to the office, where all the afternoon sitting, and in the evening home to supper, and then to my work again.
the morning I have off
I tend to my sand home
wipe and clean my thin ice
I waked in the morning about 6 o’clock and my wife not come to bed; I lacked a pot, but there was none, and bitter cold, so was forced to rise and piss in the chimney, and to bed again. Slept a little longer, and then hear my people coming up, and so I rose, and my wife to bed at eight o’clock in the morning, which vexed me a little, but I believe there was no hurt in it all, but only mirthe, therefore took no notice. I abroad with Sir W. Batten to the Council Chamber, where all of us to discourse about the way of measuring ships and the freight fit to give for them by the tun, where it was strange methought to hear so poor discourses among the Lords themselves, and most of all to see how a little empty matter delivered gravely by Sir W. Pen was taken mighty well, though nothing in the earth to the purpose. But clothes, I perceive more and more every day, is a great matter. Thence home with Sir W. Batten by coach, and I home to dinner, finding my wife still in bed. After dinner abroad, and among other things visited my Lady Sandwich, and was there, with her and the young ladies, playing at cards till night. Then home and to my office late, then home to bed, leaving my wife and people up to more sports, but without any great satisfaction to myself therein.
not a pot to piss in
but I believe in the road
all of us poor and empty
though the earth is great
~ after Paula Rego, “Dog Woman” (pastel on canvas, 1994)
“… In these pictures every woman’s a dog woman, not downtrodden, but powerful. To be bestial is good. It’s physical. Eating, snarling, all activities to do with sensation are positive. To picture a woman as a dog is utterly believable.” ~ Paula Rego
Where the bull came
inside the girl, where the tree
swallowed her trembling
whole— the earth was merely
a cavity, three letters away
from captivity. Did no one
really hear the cries she made?
But so much is myth or
shorthand for trickery. Catch
a ferry ride, bring
a shiny coin and your knuckle
rings. The boatman smells danger
in your haunches. In the “Asian squat,”
easy holding: poised to spring.
One head of the dog snarling, one baying.
One digging up bones sharp as teeth.
My people came to bed, after their sporting, at four o’clock in the morning; I up at seven, and to Deptford and Woolwich in a gally; the Duke calling to me out of the barge in which the King was with him going down the river, to know whither I was going. I told him to Woolwich, but was troubled afterward I should say no farther, being in a gally, lest he think me too profuse in my journeys. Did several businesses, and then back again by two o’clock to Sir J. Minnes’s to dinner by appointment, where all yesterday’s company but Mr. Coventry, who could not come. Here merry, and after an hour’s chat I down to the office, where busy late, and then home to supper and to bed. The Comet appeared again to-night, but duskishly. I went to bed, leaving my wife and all her folks, and Will also, too, come to make Christmas gambolls to-night.
in the wool of the river
I should be profuse
journey anywhere at home