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    My daily writing--emails, journal entries, marginalia, more emails, blog posts, and tweets--shapes me as a writer, helping and hindering the big stuff I'm trying to accomplish. Every word counts.

    My name is James Black. I'm on Facebook and Twitter. Friend and/or follow me if you like.

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Blood and Rainbows

I feel tentative about reading other writers’ blogs because when their writing is really strong, I get a little depressed. It’s sort of the “wish-I’d-written-that” syndrome, but not necessarily that simple. Reading good writing makes me feel and think with such intensity that I have to stop reading for a while.

There’s something inspiring about that kind of experience. Case in point: I read “Blood Poem” by Lee Houck on his blog Grammar Piano, and for a minute or two wondered why I should bother to write a poem ever again.

Then the feeling transformed. I felt determined to begin writing a poem as quickly as possible. Level of quality didn’t matter. I just had to get back on the horse.

I started writing about how in kindergarten I thought of rainbows not as colorfully striped arches in the sky but, rather, as refractions of color floating atop oil slicks. (Why did his poem inspire thoughts of oily rainbows? Uh, hello–it’s art, dammit.) At this point, the idea remains more interesting than the poem, so I’ll spare you an excerpt. But that’s not the point.

The point is that you need to read Lee’s poem. Whether or not you are trying to write, you deserve some inspiration. The line, “I had forgotten that you were a woman” smacked me in the face, and the last line punched me in the gut. Which is my own version of Dickinson’s method of determining what is poetry. For her and for me, it’s got to hurt a little. Truly great art makes your heart pump hard, transports you well beyond envy all the way to respect.

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One Response

  1. James, I’m honored!

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