in the nothing...

My own poetry is dead – or at least is dying a slow, meandering death. There are flashes of something I once thought I might try to say, or believe I could say, but the ink never quite finds the page the way I think it should. So, the rest is silence.

And what I cannot say, I say very well – in leaving it alone. In forgetting to remember. In the nothing that will have its way.

Gregory Orr says it as it was always meant to be said.


from my anthology of must read (a)merican poems

Gregory Orr

Two Poems About Nothing

          “I’ll write a song about nothing at all . . .”
               —Guillaume IX of Aquataine (1071–1127)

When I was young
I fell in love
with nothing.
Nothing had
my heart.
I was a moody
unpleasant youth;
even my mother
disliked me.
What are you
brooding about?
she’d ask.

I’d answer.
For once, she
You’re good
for nothing,
she said, and
nothing is good
enough for you.


When I was a child
nothing was everywhere.
It lay thick on leaves
and gathered in pools
under cedar trees.
Nothing filled
our barns
and grazed our pastures.
Nothing was so abundant
we never thought
to praise or prize it.
Those days are gone
forever. Now nothing
is scarce
and we lack for nothing.


LKD said...

Dead? Naw. Buried, maybe.

I refuse to believe that your poetry is dead. Or dying.

I feel the same way about mine.

Maybe you should view it as I'm viewing my situation.

Maybe your poetry is undergoing a transitioning. Maybe it's changing into something new.

Maybe it is dying...and will rise like a phoenix from the flames.

I'm really down and out about my ow n writing right now. I'm trying like hell to put a positive spin on things. So, I'm sending my positive spin your way.

Let's walk through the fire together.

Thanks for posting the Orr. It reminded me of a discussion we had in class the other night. One of the students voiced his loathing of Virgina Woolf and her stream of consciousness style--which I frankly love--and my prof was talking about how her one book, can't recall the title, seems to be about nothing, but is really about how nothing is something.

Which reminded me of Seinfeld, of course. The king of nothing.

I posted a song for you on my blog.

About nothing.

Collin said...

I agree with ikd. I didn't write a single poem from about 1999 to 2001. I just thought I had nothing else to say and was completely uninspired and unmotivated. I didn't even consider it "writer's block" because I was working on a novel at the time, but poetry just went into hibernation. It woke up again and yours will, too. When you least expect it.

Lisa Allender said...

Sam of Ten Thousand Things...first, thank you for your comment at my blog(the entry about George W. "envying" the troops on the front lines, as he found it "romantic").
Next, DON'T WORRY! Your poetry is there.It is not dead, or buried. I like to think of poems as being "dormant" or "active". Although this metaphor is a tiny bit unfortunate, because it sounds like I am describing an illness, like cancer. But in a way, poetry--when it is "active" starts splitting, dividing, and reproducing quite rapidly. So uh, I stand by the metaphor.
Hang in there. You are very talented!
And Coll--I never knew you went that long without actually writing poems, though it sounds like you "channeled" the poetic musings at that time, into the novel...

sam of the ten thousand things said...

Thanks to Laurel, Collin & Lisa for your comments.

Suzanne said...

I like to believe that I am always writing, pen in hand or not. Sam, I've learned to embrace the quiet times and I hope you do too.

sam of the ten thousand things said...

Thanks, Suzanne.

megalopoet said...

sam! i read this a few days ago and haven't been able to respond: dead?! no, no. just overlooked in the spring cleaning.

your words, though, did put me in mind of how i feel some days about my own writing, how i suppose so many of us do. it's just this weather, this almost, this false. it's so difficult right now. and, that's how you know it's poetry.

there's an unusual suspect/new theory, too: i'm becoming more convinced it's watching that into the wild movie. it's changed me; i haven't been the same since.

with you.