It’s been wonderful to see the positive reviews of The Spring Ghazals from fellow bloggers; I’ve appreciated the time & effort you folks have put in so much. It’s gratifying also to see that other folks “get” what I was about & find these poems moving—the latter is particularly gratifying because in so many ways the poems in The Spring Ghazals treat personal—some might even say, private—matters.
Because I ask myself what exactly it is I want or expect from these poems now that they’re gathered together in a book that people can buy—people, at least in theory, who know nothing about me or about any of the circumstances that led to the poems being written. Of course, since I have made these poems into a book & made that book available to the general public, that must be what I want.
The “Kitchen Poems” were the first poems written in The Spring Ghazals manuscript, & at first these only intended to be shared amongst friends. Then later, in the midst of a lot of personal distress, I started the Robert Frost’s Banjo blog. At first I didn’t intend to post any of my poems there, tho I did write some prose poems in the first couple of months that eventually were gathered into the “Cloudland” section of The Spring Ghazals. & as the blog began to develop a readership, I slowly began to post my own work—poems from my San Francisco days at first. The poems drew a positive response from readers.
In the spring of 09, again in the midst of quite a lot of personal turmoil, I started writing the actual ghazals. Without even as much comment as I’ve offered on this blog as to what was behind them, I started posting them on Robert Frost’s Banjo. Again, they were met with enthusiasm, & I was grateful for this.
Now the poems have moved from the flickering computer monitor to ink & paper. They are available at a price. I ask myself these days—especially as sales still remain extremely slow—what that means & how it fits with what I “want” for these poems. I’m not naïve—I never thought that I’d make real money off the book. Did I think I might sell, say, dozens of books? Yes, I did. Perhaps when the book moves onto Amazon & Barnes & Noble that still will be true. But at this point, I think I need to assess what a realistic idea of “success” is.
I wrote this book in a state of emotional upheaval, it’s true. Of course, in the composing of any individual poem, there’s something like joy—there’s the feeling of being lost & outside oneself, looking at one’s own experiences from a more focused & intent place. One isn’t in “distress” in the moments of writing anymore than one is abysmally depressed while actually playing the blues. Does writing poetry cure this sort of distress, as singing may “take your blues away?” I can’t say that I’ve ever found it to be a long term solution—in fact, there have been times in my life when I’ve thought that far from helping one to surpass distress poetry—at least in my personal experience of it—actually seems to foster it. I don’t say that this is true for everyone—perhaps not even for most. It has been true for me.
So what do I want? In an ideal world, dear reader, I would have liked the person to whom the book is dedicated, the EG I wrote about earlier on this blog, to have the poems & to like them. The fact that this isn’t the case is beyond my control. Beyond that, tho, I believe in these poems as good poems—I believe that, despite their personal origin, they can move & interest others. But now I realize that to a large extent, whether this happens is also out of my control.
It seems there’s an act of letting go that’s called for—perhaps in some way, that’s what’s “wanted,” even if it’s not what “I want.” The Spring Ghazals have gone past me—even if they only ever find their hands into a small handful of people who read & enjoy them, they are out of my hands now. Yes, I’ll continue to do what I realistically can to draw people’s attention to them. But after that, this is all between you—the people who somehow encounter the book—& the book.
Letting go—as it says in the book: “this is so far the hardest poem/before the next poem in this lifetime”
Pic: To add a bit of levity to the proceedings, Hogarth’s “The Distrest Poet”