Jim Trainer

Posts Tagged ‘writing process’

Shrieks from Paradise, Correspondence&Rails#19: Dear Reverend

In Being A Writer, Correspondence on December 19, 2014 at 6:39 pm

The Bard of Bettie Naylor
Royal Blue Grocery
Hippie Town, USA

Reverend J.S.Woolery
Between Trouble&The Blues
San Marcos, TX

9/7/14 2:40 PM

if the blues don’t kill me, boys I’ll never die
-Steve James

Sir-

We will live to see stranger things than our own mortality. The worst horrors and petty piss-ons of life are just a drop in the cup compared to our blues. But our blues has made us strong, if not resourceful.

They play the worst music here at Royal Blue but it’s my office away from home so whaddiyagonnado?
Kids today don’t understand that this music sucked when it was popular, when we were young men and believed in things like love and strength. Adam Ant and the Cure, Destiny’s Child-this was the shit blasting out the winners’ sports cars as we brazenly and bitterly stuck our head into the wind on the dirty streets of our hometown.

But enough of that ballyoo, I want to know what happened. I was riding high this Spring and heading into summer I thought I had said goodbye to the blues forever. I was falling in love, had poems accepted to several zines and even lectured at Texas State. Ha. I thought I had it whipped, Bud. What I presented to the CTWP that day was true; I believed it. I won’t say that I don’t write. My worst day is heaps better than my best day before, but I’m choked with grief and loss and I mostly just sideline it on the roof with cheap white wine until the sun sets and I can drink the Boss’ Vod.

I’m no fool. I never could have dreamed of the life I’m living now. I’ve become everything I wanted to. There is still so much to do but the view is grand. And still I find-those same old problems-a kinghell dissatisfaction with everything and everyone, a pack a day habit and a monkey on my back.

I guess this shit’s supposed to make you strong. And it will. But I carry it with me, J. All the loneliness of the world. And I’ll never live down that I have become exactly like my old man. Bitter and closed but never able to stave off a hypersensitivity that the Buddhists strive for but the Western man just smokes away and bides his time the best he can.

The Western Man is fucked. Don’t get me wrong I am a feminist. I was raised by women. But the frontier is closed. There’s nothing left worth killing except ourselves and the jury’s even out on that one.
The point of this letter Reverend is to say that it hasn’t gotten any worse but slightly better, until we’re attacked by it, this silent stranger within, who wants to choke all the joy out of the life we’ve built and fought and strived for. This motherfucker wants to burn it all down and worse, he’d love to sit down at the feast with you and make sure you don’t enjoy a second of it.

That’s not the point either, Reverend. We isolationists should do well to welcome the Harvest, celebrate the razing of fools and give cheer even of the ruse that once had us spellbound-mistaking a silly girl’s game for love. But let’s face it the real mistake is in thinking that there is anything that will save us. We don’t need saving. We’re doing better than our Fathers and if they could they would tell us that we did good. They’re proud. My point is that all mindfuckery and subterfuge, all draining dross and styrofoam love has only brought us closer. I believe it and I’ve got to. My days are filled with nothing. An abyss that I will fill up with letters to friends, poetry and Creative (or otherwise) Non-Fiction.

I won’t be coming around on the idea of togetherness. Because it doesn’t last and it never felt right even when it did. I believe in the road and I believe in the work. They were only in the way of the work and every heartbreak paves the way. Every disappointment, every ridiculous lie we hung onto is one less thing in the way. Did it hurt? Better believe. And does every day. But for every thing I’ve lost I’ve found myself. I’m with Rollins on this one. Folk music pisses me off and I’m counting down the days until I can go dark on the social networks. Get down on Vonnegut time. Surpass these zeniths of hatred and coast on a plain of dispassion.

The terrible summer has ceded. Time will do away with them and leave me with my pain. If I can’t get any work done at home then I’ll setup shop out here at the cafe and crank out another angry missive to my Friend, the Reverend.

Stronger,
Trainer
Royal Blue Grocery
Austin, TX

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On Poetry

In Poetry on May 6, 2014 at 10:44 am

Perhaps this title is misleading. I’d rather talk about my life. Perhaps I am trying to say that poetry is life. That’ll do. Poetry is life.

But editing is a motherfucker.

Your work has impressed me. That is to say it has left an impression on me. This won’t be a critique of anyone’s work. Just some observations about my editing process and ultimately the truth about my relationship with my own work.
For my first read through of work submitted, I thought I’d have to be critical. Some work would have to be bad, so other work could be good, right? Well…poems written with economy and utility in mind-that is to say, works that had a simple message and used as simple a language as could be found, were the ones that passed first muster. Others, with perhaps a rough or messy message-a not immediately clear message-again, I was critical. It was on these poems that I’d move on&into the language and start editing from there. But instead I grew despondent when I made the connection and turned the editorial and critical eye upon myself. Me&my work.
And so came the heavy, barbed question-what makes my work good? And, also, thee dreaded and most hated: Is my work good?
To keep up with the publishing schedule on here, I had to reach for surefire, simple works of simple message and language. Those poems, such as the “orphaned triplets” of D.C. Bloom, work for a reason. They get in and at you, speak it, say their peace and peace out. There aren’t any rediscoveries or further unwrapping. They’re like a song, and a good friend. You know who they are and you can visit them.
The obtuse ones, they live and breathe on their own. Their meaning can unwrap and reveal itself even while not in their presence. You go back and pick at it some more. You can’t tell what it is that has grabbed you or even if they have grabbed you at all. It’s just that you’re back. And you’ve been thinking about them.
It’s also true that some work did all of these things. Some work gave a knotty message in a simple way. And some went to the extreme of simply saying their truth and, for one poem in particular by Amelia Raun, it was such a beautiful truth.

Is my work good?
Oh boy is that a can of fucking worms.

Through you and the beautiful work you’ve submitted, I really had to examine my relationship to my work and further question the value of the inner critic. And personally, I’ve had to reevaluate the function of my Art. My Art, once and always a salve, but then I whipped the bad blues so I had no more nights to put in there, in that cold building and as a dayworker of desperation. Of course I felt like I had to create all those years, in order to survive and transform, understand pain and use it-or, mulch it into bitterness and use that. But without blues, well shit-I almost needed a problem. And personally it would have to be HARD, right? Isn’t that so my Friend?
To be authentic I’d have to suffer? The work would have to be bled and I would have to bleed it out. Scrutinize. Procrastinate. Get drunk. Jerk off. Fuck her even though I said we should be friends.

Maybe.
I snapped out of it. Took off the critic’s hat and got back to the task at hand. Editing. And what, as Editor, did I discover?
My work is good. And so is yours.
There are things that have proven to be effective when executing an Art form such as poetry. Such as narrative, point of view and/or interplay of pronouns and etc. For me, all that should serve to bring it all back home and make it something memorable that another (your audience) can take in and appreciate.
Other than that, how could I judge, really?

Some are wordsmiths. Some have the soul of a poet. Some have the soul of a poet but perhaps could use a deepening of their relationship to words, or-further consideration of the general relationship to words.

Some poems I have sat on only to find they were sitting on me. And some,like the the love irons by J.J. Duval, just fucking floored me from the gate. Brother Charlie O’Hay knocked it out of the park. Twice. And of course he did. The man is at it everyday. I love the reverent language of Bevan McShea and it may be because I know the man is living it. I have undying respect and love for Lamont Steptoe and we should all take heed-that all we are ever doing is standing on the shoulders of giants. Our ancestors and great men like him. My friendship with great writer Jason Woolery is a boon to me. The man gives me a shot in the arm every time I need it and his work is strong, well thought out and executed. And memorable. The Reverend Kevin P.O’Brien’s work still has the love and wonder I have always appreciated in his poetry; tinged with both the beauty and despair of annihilation. The bluntness and cunning, and what I like to call the “slow knife” of Salvatore Cerceo’s work gave Tsunami Dreams an unmistakable realness and menace. And Maureen Ferguson’s Pale Bellied Mourner is still flying around in my ribcage, her writing style tickles me to no end when picturing that sassy woman in the field with binoculars on and smoking an L&M.

All of the poetry submitted wasn’t written for intellectual reasons. Nor were their reasons simply of an artistic nature. Some held themselves up to that bar, in either language or creativity. But they’re all heartsongs. Songs of the heart. They’re all lamentations or meditations-spells, or otherwise imminent realizations. They’re all either creations or the raw materials needed to create. And they all have a truth.

I don’t have to assume an intellectual stance when editing heart songs. And I don’t have to find fault in your work or mine, in order for it to be good.
I’ve got everything I need. I know my work is good. I know it’s necessary. And I know, like everything, it’s a process. Your beautiful work and craftsmanship helped me realize this. And so much more. So ultimately, as editor (of your work and mine), I simply presented it.

Or, I didn’t.

Lastly, and most important-there’s a whole world spinning out there that has nothing to do with Art. Real creation happening every moment. It can be missed in a moment or for a lifetime. Especially when it’s gone. Especially when it’s gone. And that’s why poetry.

VOX POPULI VOX DEI
Trainer
Austin, TX

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Jim Trainer
EdItor, GFtT
jamesmichaeltrainer@gmail.com

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