Here’s a photo of my mother as a young woman enjoying a night out with girlfriends, cocktails and dinner, at a place called the Loendi Club in Pittsburgh’s historic Hill District.
So I’m thinking, what made me a finalist and not a winner. These thoughts prompted me to rethink, revise and refashion the collection. During the extensive reconstruction, I realized that, among other things, the title was wrong. It did not capture the essence of what I wanted the poems to reveal.
My mother began speaking. She was aggressive and gentle; she pushed and soothed until finally the magic clicked. I thought about that haunting photo of her, my Christian, upstanding community member mother (the mother I knew) sitting in an after hours club with friends, relaxed and enjoying food and cocktails. I think by studying the photo, my mother gave me permission to dig deeper, to dismiss the obvious, to linger long (a phrase my friends and I used to say during heated Bid Whist parties at my house back in the day) on the blurred and uncertain in order to make sense of the seemingly senseless, thereby discovering or rediscovering the valuable.
Here’s me realizing that the poem I’d written about my mother needed to take a front row seat, if not in placement, then certainly as the needle and thread that would anchor the collection. After reworking and improving her poem, everything else fell into place.
I wrote an earlier post about a collection I’m writing called The Book of Spells. In my mind, The Book of Spells was supposed to be my next published book. But, we don’t always know what we are doing; the trick to finding out is to put one foot in front of the other, to trust the process, to travel along the road to discovery.
Daughter Mouth Blues (formerly Good Dirty Down) will be published by Blacksmith & Bones Press, available here.