That was all I needed to hear and I tossed my heap of excuses aside and sat at my keyboard, turned off the distracting DVR recorded episode of “Bun Heads” and typed the first poem for my application packet to the Virtual Poets workshop of the University of Iowa‘s International Writing Program:
Day Shift at the Asylum (an excerpt)
Blond dandy meteorologist pumped his fist,
High in the air giddy with the forecast of sunshine,
Promised to the nurse high on whatever she gets high on….
On and on I went, I couldn’t stop for days. I edited some older poems, crafted my statement of purpose and ignored the puny nagging lying devils mocking my sense of destiny every step of the way. I submitted my application packet and waited. While I waited, I watched Ayana (Twelve Tribes of Hattie) on Oprah’s OWN network talk about her experience at the esteemed Iowa Writers Workshop and I asked myself that dreaded question.
“Who in heaven, do you think you are?” (I have no business in hell, so…)
I had just applied to a workshop at one of the premier and highly regarded creative writing programs in the United States. Now, even though this poetry workshop is organized independent of the IWW, I knew that it’s standards would be just as high, comparatively.
I went back to that voice. The boldness and confidence in that single command, for sure wasn’t mine. It’s the sudden voice that compels you to take a different route back home, to call a friend just before they do something really stupid – again. From experience, I know our conversations can happen anywhere: writing in my journal, reading the Bible, alone driving, in the shower, on my knees or in deliberate repose on my recliner. In my panic mode, I employed all these avenues and heard absolutely nothing! The silence was ominous…five days and a weekend and still nothing.
I had effectively worked myself into a frenzy. I was not resting in that all-sufficient command. On my knees in my kitchen, I repented and entered the rest of “His will…” Later that evening, I got my acceptance email! Yah!
My virtual world-class of fifteen poets are from Saudi Arabia, India, Singapore, Canada, New Zealand, Netherlands, Philippines, New York, California (Nigeria), Iowa, Georgia. It is an incredible and exhilarating workshop. Different voices, styles and backgrounds make for a sumptuous melting pot of dynamic and deeply satisfying poetry.
Intense expressions and declarations of ah! We end each session; fully satiated by the words, prose and some very cool compositions. The Virtual Poets Society is now on Facebook – 0Virtual Poets Society, thanks to our friend from Hoorn and who knows what may follow, maybe an anthology soon?
These gifted poets already have sites and published works. (Check out the FB page for their links) Inspired by our esteemed instructors and Poet Margaret Ross, we are devouring modern and contemporary poems by the greats – Elizabeth Bishop, Francis Ponge, Sei Shonagon, Sandra McPherson, Gertrude Stein, Joe Brainard, Michael Palmers and in the words of Sylvia Plath (excerpt from Mushrooms);
Nudgers and shovers.
In spite of ourselves,
Our kind multiplies:
We shall by morning
Inherit the earth.
Our foot’s in the door.