Books · Poetry · writing

The Big Book of Exit Strategies and A Poetry Renewal

exit strategiesWith the exception of two random midnight inspirations, I haven’t written poetry since last summer, and most of last summer’s poetry was jumbled, incoherent overpoetical ramblings about how many late nights I spent at the barn during thunderstorms. I have many, many thunder and lightning poems because of those nights; I love the memories, but practically speaking the poems aren’t very good and they repeat one another lot.

Last night, I picked up my roommate’s copy of Jamaal May’s new book of poetry, The Big Book of Exit Strategies. I had the privilege of meeting and workshopping with him in 2014, when I attended the Frost Place Conference of Poetry. He was basically amazing – very thoughtful, encouraging, and enthusiastic about everyone’s work in workshop, and he encouraged me to show more of myself in my poetry. I had never realized it before, but I had a habit of excising myself entirely from my poems, sometimes to the point that there wasn’t a subject at all.

I flipped through The Big Book of Exit Strategies and read a few poems, reread a few that he’d performed at Frost Place, and abruptly remembered that I really freaking love poetry.

In my classic fashion, I procrastinated on other work to begin tinkering with some draft-y poems that I had sitting around. Maybe it’s thesis-avoidance (I am committed to calling my novel-in-progress my thesis now), maybe it’s research paper-avoidance, but I feel intensely excited to work on my poetry. My roommate, a bona fide poet, is also very excited for me.

Why this feeling? Jamaal May is really damn amazing. I love his work. And almost two years ago, he told me he was excited to see what I could do. Looking at his new book, and looking again at his first book (Hum) that he autographed for me – it reminded me that I, too, am excited to see what I can do.

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