Friday, July 2, 2010

my first time

So this week we've been doing some shuffling around of furniture in order to get me a more ergonomically sound writing space (specifically, we've shuffled a much-loved but ugly-as-sin couch and chair to the dump and shuffled in a brand new set of chairs and side table...), a process which involved hauling an old desk downstairs to the living room.

The point?  Oh, yeah.  So the process of cleaning out my old writing desk has been a lovely trip down memory lane--I haven't actively used this desk for about ten years, and the drawers were chock full of nostalgia!

Among the treasures I found was this--evidence of my first time ever sending out a piece of my writing, in this case a tribute poem I wrote for the beat poet, Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

You have NO IDEA how thrilled I was to receive this (and to find it again after all these years!)  The paper is a form letter from City Lights Books, and it says the usual kind of thing:  "Lawrence Ferlinghetti appreciates your asking for his comment on your work but he has found it impossible to keep up with such requests, and must decline.  Good luck with the publication of it," but I was thrilled beyond belief to see the signature of one of my idols along with the personal message, "Thank you for the tributes!"  He also signed the back of the postcard ("For Elissa"), and let me tell you, this made me fangirl almost as much yesterday as it did ten years ago!

I never expected a response from him at all.  I mean, the man is a legend.  At the time, I was as entranced by the beat writers as Anna and Kat in my novel, Kiss the Morning Star, and the thought of the man signing a note for me, no matter if he read the (bad) poems or not, was enough to make me weak in the knees.

Anyway, all of this has made me think about how far I've come in this journey of becoming a writer in the last ten years, and how deeply in debt I am to so many writers--those who have come before me and those who read my blog and talk to me on twitter and those who are in my middle school classes, wowing me with their amazing words at an age when I was still mucking around with angsty rhyming poetry.  It also reminded me again that even though it's a little embarrassing at times to think that I sent this awesome poet my little tribute, it's just possible that it actually made him smile, and in any case, the act of contacting him impacted me--and continues to today.

The poem I wrote, by the way, was a riff off (not a rip-off, haha) of Ferlinghetti's own poem, "I am Waiting" from his amazing book, A Coney Island of the Mind.  I'm not sharing much of it (it's looooonnnng.  and bad.), but I'll give you the opening stanzas.

A Renaissance of Wonder

I am waiting
     in fact I am quite impatient
     and there are weeks when I lose faith
     altogether
     and crumble off bits and pieces of my
     belief in the goodness of people.
I am waiting, and I tell you there are weeks,
     weeks where I can barely contain
     my optimism--
     my hope has no restraints.

I am waiting for these weeks to grow in number.

4 comments:

simmone said...

I love this post - your book sounds right up my alley. I so wanted to be a beatnik chick. Was born in the wrong era for sure ...I have a postcard from Barry Gifford that stays on my writing wall.

Nomes said...

cool - I love stumbling upon old things like that :) Unfortunately I went through a nazi throw-away phase and chucked out heaps of things - all my journals, all my letters from my teenage years, etc... I sometimes get like that - kinda regret some of the things I threw...

anyway, your poem is lovely and - wow - there goes Simmone again! Awesome :)

cat hellisen said...

Hey, that's so cool. :D

fwiw, I very much liked this line of your apparently terrible poem:

and crumble off bits and pieces of my
belief in the goodness of people

Krissa Jean! said...

its the little things that set us free, and the fear that hold us back, but after it all, its the questions left un-answered.

i was cleaning my desk out of my middle school papers and found a story i had written the summer before washburn, i may not be that old, but its something that i will never forget (hopefully)