Monday, November 17, 2003

the grumpy post

Leny had asked how poets deal with grumpy. Now that I'm grumpy, I might as well take a stab at it. As to why I'm grumpy, I'm not really sure, maybe a dip in the hormones, or just the gradual cycle of moods. ya, can't always be on the up.

I realize I don't write when I'm grumpy. Actually, I stay away from people. I don't like to schlep off my grumpiness unto others to pass it around. Grumpiness can be as contagious as yawning. Kind of nasty domino effect. In practice, I try to diffuse grumpiness, whether mine or someone else's.

I don't like being grumpy and I tend not to have anything to say. But I am forcing myself to write through this grumpiness. I tend to become a recluse when I'm grumpy and if forced to be socialble, head to the sides and keep my mouth shut. I don't like being grumpy, my shoulders get all stiff, my eyes frown, things everywhere annoy me.

I tend to go an veg in front of the tv: watch sci-fi, mindless reality shows. Usually in grumpy phase it's good to avoid the news, news tends to raise the grumpy level. And because I'm just grumpy at everything, I don't have much to say, which is why I tend not to write. I tighten up, my shoulders harden, my breath is constricted. It doesn't make for writing for me.

When I write, I don't think of anything. It's almost like watching tv but in my head. I watch pictures in my head go by, then write them down. Which doesn't mean I've never written angry poetry or painful poetry, but I feel like that emotion passes through me in the moment of writing. Afterwards is when I feel it, like coughing after a billowing car drives by. I'm actually really relaxed when I write poetry. I want it to come and I want to receive it, which I can't do if I'm involved with dealing with my own emotion like grumpiness.

I'm really not myself when I write poetry. I'm not exactly sure who I am, but I'm not me, the me that is concerning herself with this day to day life I'm living nor the self dealing with this icky feeling of grumpiness. Tatang has taken various pictures of me in different performances and states and I'm never sure who that person is in the photograph. Perhaps it is me, but it's a me I'm not too well acquainted or a part of me that doesn't talk, just moves.

Poet Russell Gonzaga once told me this story about this great Muslim fighter. This man challenged him and so before the fight he prayed to Allah. They battle, then the challenger falls. As the great Muslim fighter raises his sword to deliver the last blow, the challenger spits in his face. The Muslim fighter stops, then walks away. The challenger asks him, why he did not deliver the last blow? He replied that when the challenger spit in his face, he felt anger. If he had killed in anger, it would have been personal and would have violated his faith. He fights on behalf of his God, not for himself and certainly not for his own anger and vengeance.

Oh, I do write when I'm angry and sad and happy and grumpy, it's just not poetry. Poetry happens somewhere in the stillness between the thum-bum of a heartbeat.

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