Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Scene from a Recurring Childhood

Stick-horses snorting impatiently
by the school room door; the high Sierra;
the valley floor; dirt on my clothes
and hands; my father smiling,
walking this way.

(first publication)

“Scenes from a Recurring Childhood” added to Poems, Slightly Used.

In the Forum: book covers made from military uniforms.


Elisabeth said...

The verb 'snorting', those stick figure horses, the valley floor and dirty clothes and hands -wonderful - you sure manage to get my imaginative senses going, William.

William Michaelian said...

That’s very nice to hear. A couple of days ago, when my wife and I were looking for some balloons and wrapping paper for our grandson’s birthday, we saw a bin full of small plastic stick-horses, and those reminded me of the ones kept in a barrel in the corridor outside the door when I was in kindergarten. Every recess, we rode those poor ponies ragged. Hence this autobiographical interlude.

I’m always amazed how one image or thing reminds me of another, and where they lead in terms of memory and the emotions involved. There seems no easy or convenient dividing line between the present and the past. It’s something I experience again and again when I write, and I’ve been particularly aware of it lately as I’ve been looking at some of the material that will be going into one of my future Press Series titles that focuses on memoir.

Elisabeth said...

Are you working on a memoir, William? I'd be interested to know more. As you've already gathered no doubt, I'm interested in autobiography and the things that inspire it.

William Michaelian said...

I certainly have gathered that, from the enjoyable time I spend at your blog.

In recent years I’ve amassed quite a lot of autobiographical writing (if, indeed, all of it isn’t) — some in the form of poetry, some as prose. A fair portion of it is scattered through my recently completed Songs and Letters and elsewhere on my website. Since I first conceived of the Author’s Press Series, a volume of memoir/autobiography has been part of the plan.

Nazia Mallick said...

"There seems no easy or convenient dividing line between the present and the past."
I feel the same,William.

However, I nearly always find myself struggling with autobiographical facets that unobtrusively creep into my writings. There are times when after writing it down, I feel I must chicken out from that particular piece...it is too revealing to be out on the cold pages...
Someone said to me once, "It means you are afraid to show your true self."
Does it?
I did not contradict at that time...but deep in my heart I knew that it is not about showing my true self, it is about how much I am ready to share...

But I indeed look forward to reading your memoir.
Some of your little glimpses have whetted my appetite.

William Michaelian said...

Thank you, Nazia. When it comes to divulging our innermost secrets, most of us, I think, have a line we feel we must not cross. And that line can shift over time. We also find other ways to make them known. And sometimes, they are apparent to others whether we realize it or not. And, all too often, I’m afraid, we ourselves aren’t quite sure of what they are. As humans, we are quite capable of telling ourselves whatever story we need to hear in order to preserve our precious egos and identities. We work for years at building agreeable self-images, changing and rearranging memories as we go, underlining some, throwing out others. In the process we become noble, or we become martyrs, according to our temperament and experience. From a writer’s standpoint it’s endlessly fascinating, but we are certainly not immune. Writing is, though, or it can be, a great means of exploration. I always learn when I write. The process is full of surprises, and not all of them are pleasant. But there is always a desire to push on, to find out what happens next.

Nazia Mallick said...

Thank you William, for expanding on those thoughts, so characteristically well .

Trying to stick with an 'Agreeable self image' is so true.
Though the lines do shift sometimes, maybe in need of a catharsis, or due to this desire to dignify my failures and pains.

Creative process like writing sometimes does become a tool to bring about a consolation...

Brodsky says, "It's like a wound. It's something you can't fix or heal; all you can do is caress it."

Elisabeth said...

I'm also taken by your thoughts on writing, William and how an image or thing leads on to memories and emotions.

And Nazia, that wonderful quote from Brodsky about the wound. Can you tell me please where it comes from?

Sorry, William to be talking across you on your blog. I hope you don't mind.

William Michaelian said...

Elisabeth, I don’t see it that way at all. I appreciate your comments, and Nazia’s, and I’m delighted with the exchange.

Nazia Mallick said...

I wish I could tell you exactly where I read it Elisabeth; it is one of those phrases that jump at you from some text you are reading and then catches you by throat.

I must have read it somewhere, and it has stayed with me forever.

I quote it often,because I do relate to it.