Signing off for 2016

Having done bugger-all blogging in 2016, it feels a bit rich to be signing off for the year (what, you’re still around?! I thought you’d been ossified), but none the less, I am so doing.

Pohutukawa aIt’s been a funny one. Again. We had the Earthquake anthology, plus quite a few more big shakes. Takahē, and leaving takahē. Quite a few personal upheavals and stresses, at least one of which involved me assuming what my doctor referred to as The Hostage Position for an extended period of time. But some great things too – three book launches in the latter part of the year for poetry collections that had at least some of their genesis in my classes (Karen Zelas’s I Am Minerva, Jane Simpson’s A world without maps, and Marisa Cappetta’s How to tour the world on a flying fox) – quite apart from my personal feelings of pride, all three are crackingly good, and you definitely should get your hands on copies. And I’ve met a lot of new people in my classes, and have probably enjoyed teaching this year more than any other year to date – hard work to prepare, but all of the groups really clicked together, and we all had an absolute ball. (I do feel ridiculously lucky to be able to do this sort of thing and be paid for it. What, dedicate a few months to reading lots of interesting books, and then talk about them? At length? To a captive audience? And they pay me?!) And I got to read Fare at the final evening for the CPC, which was really good. And although I was feeling anything but confident during the reading itself, I had a number of people come up to me afterwards to say how much they’d enjoyed hearing it. It’s actually been a wee while since I’ve read through it, and I had the thoroughly pleasant experience of going through and saying ooh, that’s a lovely bit of imagery! Wow, I got that bit really right! and feeling surprised by it in a good way. Not an experience you get often, and one I’m very grateful for.

Speaking of my own poems, the poems-written count is a bit sad though – three. Just three. Only one of which is publication-ready. (Editors? Anyone?) At best a … fallow … year. But I am clearing a lot of the extraneous things away, so next year should be a bit better for my own writing. And I have come to terms with the fact that the universe will always give me dramas or disasters or distractions, so waiting until my life is clear and smooth before I knuckle down and focus on writing will just give me even less reason to think of myself as an actual writer.

I did have another couple of paragraphs making witty references to global disasters such as the one that sounds like a racist version of breakfast, or the one beginning with T and ending in arse or something very like that … but frankly it’s all too depressing. And there is always something depressing. Not to mention genuinely tragic. I believe the situation was best summed up by Forest Gump:

Shit Happens.

(Did you think I was going to give you the one about life being like a box of chocolates, and how you never know what you’re going to get? I always know what I’m going to get in a box of chocolates. That‘s why I get ones with little maps and colour-coded wrappers. And threaten to cut the hands off anyone who rummages around in said box without permission.) (Written permission.)

So as the year 2016 wanders drunkenly to its conclusion – assuming we do make it that far, which I accept is not a given – the best I can offer you is: be kind to each other. And enjoy the good bits – the wonderful poems, the laughs, the early morning cups of coffee, the amazing books, the late-night strolls around the garden or a park or just down the hall to bed. Tell at least one person that you love them. Wear sunscreen. And when the walls start shaking – drop, cover, and hold. On to a book of poetry, for preference. But a table-leg will do.

Joanna

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