Do you consider yourself a writer?
How did you learn to read? Did you reverse your L’s and P’s, and do you remember the first time you realized the existence of the hinge of meter , creaking in your brain until you bowed down to it, offering it syllables choked with angry consonants and the broad vowels of bad internal rhyme?
When was the first time someone snickered at the ridiculous breadth of your vocabulary, at the way your sentences were hung with pictures folded into words, at the choices your larynx made to surround your meanings with tribes of thorny adjectives?
Have you ever lost yourself in index cards, in preserving the voices of others in little plastic boxes crowded with squares of paper bound by rubber bands? And have you ever moved into the gap of unknowing supplied by a research question, impatient to know about the alchemical language of the I ching and its connection to the tao, or how Stieglitz met Georgia O’Keeffe?
How often do you write? Do you ever feel the chafe of unwritten clauses, hanging around in the sky of your mind's eye like clouds graying up with undropped rain?
Do you write poetry? Do you hear it before you sleep, hustling along in another language than the one you’re accustomed to, claiming its birthright, forming a body of need until you beg it to come alive in the language you know?
Answer each question as fully as possible, and use examples. Remember the time you sang to the carnival barker at the county fair, the one with the smoker’s cough and the purple bandanna, and how the words came out of you in an unexpected tributary of play and comfort. Call forth the journal you wrote in sixth grade and how you described the deer paths in the woods behind your house for no one but yourself to read. Tell me what you want from language, how you need it to sing, what questions you have of it. remind it to take care of you, and whip it into shape from time to time, until it neither flees nor marches, but moves instead with the steady rolling pace of a dog you’ve trained to guard you, its pink tongue a flag of loyalty as the two of you pass through that throng of wordless Philistines, intact and strengthened.
© Laura Sorrells 2011
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