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Tag Archives: journals

Summer Clover

found poem: STONE JOURNAL

found poem: BECAUSE

come in…

trying to write…

journalsBeginning with my grade-school diary, with its padded aqua cover and tiny key, I kept journals. I was my mother’s listener, the silent one, and found in my journals a listener of my own.

In the earliest books, my language was stilted, my handwriting changed from entry to entry and my days were measured by the people who had been in them. But gradually, the writing gained confidence and the words gushed down my arm onto the paper.

At a workshop in Italy a very few years ago, with decades of journals lining my shelves, Phyllis Theroux had this advice for journaling: look for the light. It was a revelation, as my books had always been a bleak, indulgent recording of the very darkest corners of my personal hell of the moment.

Returning home, I took on the task I had attempted before without success: purging my journals. Tossing myself into the murky flood of my handwritten books, their pages crinkled with the pen’s impression, I found pained bleating, repetitive moaning — the exhausting misery of someone I did not recognize as myself. Thousands and thousands of unilluminated words failing to capture beauty, ideas, inspirations or questions, spewing agony instead of ecstasy. My hand’s habit was darkness.

So I slogged my way through the pages, letting the rain of memory streak across me. Take away the moaning and little was left: a few pictures, some art notes and sketches, a lot of dreams, the rare morsel of insight or graceful turn of phrase. Those were preserved, transcribed; everything else went into the shredder, which I filled and emptied into the compost bin and filled again.

It had been good, perhaps, to have a place to vent, but that old angst would not help me or anyone else now. There was a sense of releasing an earlier version of myself, of trusting the person I had become, of turning over the soil to ready it for planting.

In morning’s light, I began to sow.