Monday, October 03, 2005

Ready for Class

Another writing class tonight. We were assigned two essays for tonight, "Split at the Root" by Adrienne Rich and "Under the Influence" by Scott Russell Sanders. I've read the Rich essay on several prior occasions. And it was with no small excitement that when Rich mentions an earlier poem in which she had tried to examine being "split at the root," I went to my poetry bookshelf and found the poem. The poem is "Readings of History" and it appeared first in Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law, published in 1963. I've got it in Collected Early Poems 1950-1970. The poem is multiple part and is one of Rich's first attempts to make whole her fragmented identity of southern gentile (through her mother) and nothern Jew (through her father), not to mention that she was a woman who went to Harvard/Radcliffe, was married with children and had yet to realize she was a lesbian. Here's an excerpt from part two of the poem, "The Confrontation":

The present holds you like a raving wife, clever as the mad are clever, digging up your secret truths from her disabled genius. She knows what you hope and dare not hope: remembers what you're sick of forgetting. What are you now but what you know together, you and she? She will not let you think. It is important to make connections. Everything happens very fast in the minds of the insane. Even you aren't up to that, yet. Go out, walk, think of selves long past.
I don't know if we will talk about the poem in class since it was not provided as a handout and is not in the essay book. Too bad too. The class is an essay class though, so I understand. The writing assignment was to write about something where we feel vulnerable and not totally in charge. I stayed clear of family this time and wrote about ballroom dancing. No control--the man leads, the woman follows. The vulnerability comes in in the performance aspect of it, the body consciousness, the being looked at and the sometimes skimpy costumes. What we write is supposed to be short, only essay nuggets, not an entire essay, and adding up to only three doubled-spaced pages. Three double-spaced pages is not a lot, there is little depth, I can only hint at it. I shrunk my piece down from four pages and really worked it over good this time. I hope to get to read it to the class but might not since there were a few people who wanted to read last week but didn't get to because we ran out of time and if someone who didn't want to read last week decides to read this week they get first chance before I do. One of the frustrating things about the class being 20 people. So I might not get to be psychoanalyzed this week. At least I can still turn it in for teacher comment. On the topic of writing, Susan Hill of Long Barn Books decided they would publish something in fiction. She annouced that she would look at everything that was sent in (the first four chapters). She was surprised to receive 3,741 submissions. I don't know why she was surprised, but she was. From that number she asked to see the full manuscript of only seven of them. She writes about it here.