I’m beginning to bring more of my personal writing projects into the space of this blog.
I’ve been thinking about storytelling; I’ve been deeply inspired by the women who are part of Invincible Summer, which I see as a tribe, but not “my” tribe, because that’s a weird way for me to think of it.
The circle of writers in the current session is amazing; just a fabulous group of women, talented, enthusiastic, supportive: I couldn’t ask for more.
Oh, and also? They’re brave.
They write honest things.
They tell stories; really real stories.
I hold back a lot. It’s tricky, being “public.” Your parents read your blog. You don’t want to talk too much about what you’ve survived. I get it, that’s me. New levels are opening up in my understanding of voice. I’m opening inside as I go through the exercises of my own ecourse.
I think I’ve survived things because I’m supposed to tell stories. We all are. That’s what humans have done since time immemorial. Myths so old that nobody can pinpoint their origin.
Everyone who survives anything has lived to tell, and maybe that telling is a human responsibility.
Something in me is changing, becoming more steely and independent. I want to talk about things without exploiting them. And I don’t mean any of this in a disingenuous way; I don’t believe that telling my story will change the world and help other people tell their stories; my story is one among many. I just want to tell it, need to tell it.
So I’ve started a memoir project that’s going to be housed at another blog. The new blog is called One Woman Walking, and it’s much more concerned with stories than it is with stats and traffic; more concerned with honesty than with design or branding. One Woman Walking is a quieter place, softer, more tender and honest. I’ll let you know when there’s more.
I’ve also been working on a series of poems for the city of Detroit. This is what I wrote tonight; it’s still rough, I suppose, but so is the city. I have a deep love for this place, and I know the rap we get here–that this is the worst city of all the broken-down post-industrial cities of them all, and our murder rate is through the roof, and schools are closing and everyone and their brother seems to own a gun & think it’s super cool (which is not helping the murder rate, but nobody seems to talk about that).
That’s what you hear on a national level, right?
Do you hear about the Detroit Institute of Arts, Wayne State University, the opera house, the Fox Theater? I’m not asking rhetorically. I really wonder.
Glory days have been documented: the Fox Theater in the 20′s. Motown.
The race riots: documented.
There needs to remain a chronicle, so I’ve been writing what I see and hear. Car rides and radios.
(detroit poem #24)
Let’s skip past what’s pretty
and just get down to the nitty gritty.
I’m trying to show up for everyone left
in this riot city.
I sit in an apartment,
a life I can’t explain,
typing by antique lamplight, cheap, a replica
but I found it by the road, garbage art,
& thus I love it. I type,
listening hard to the sharp pop and shake of firecrackers
lifting off, making names for themselves
in the sky, in air thick
with water, mosquitoes, lightning-bugs and thumping bass.
I’ve never caught a lightning-bug. I have a hundred never-nevers.
I have words for rage and then words without measure.
I’m leaning into the forward trajectory
of the end of the world, of which we’ve been warned
every twenty years or so for the last ten thousand.
When it does come I suspect a peaceful explosion
of the sun, quick death by white, white fire.
Today the radio said the fire department,
due of course to budge cuts, no longer serves unoccupied homes;
so abandoned buildings now just burn up in the night,
I see them
winking out: goodnight, goodnight, goodnight
Empty home after empty home, after
empty empty empty
I was on the most cracked of cracked pavement
sidewalks lined in brittle brown thirsty summer grass.
I walk among houses all curly and ornate,
tall victorians, I love them really hard, remembering
that once this street was filled with children,
my mother among them.
I walk and work on loving the houses.
I photograph the final glory of empty home
after empty home.
When I’m old I’ll touch the photographs with gentle fingers
and tell people about the streets where children jumped rope,
the streets that went up in flames because everyone went away,
the city I loved fierce inside even though it wasn’t pretty–
because it wasn’t pretty, but it was mine.
Yes, the wine would be cheap on summer nights in 1999.
Strawberry Boone’s Farm and firecrackers north of the city
the bang hiss sizzle pop scaring off the fish
all out over and about the lake.
(copyright Jessica Morrow, 2012 all rights reserved)