(picture from Zillow of my residence in Iowa City – this is about what it looks like now. Due to the pandemic, I am no longer there and so can’t provide a more current or indoor picture)
I like to be in the middle of writing a series of poems that are held together by a shared set of concerns. It’s comforting not to have to start from scratch every time I sit down to write. Right now, that set of concerns has been: maternity, Christmas, menstruation, teaching, and friends. Having this coherent set of concerns also gives me the sense of a problem that needs to be worked out: what do these things have to do with each other?
When I am not working on an academic research project, I have the freedom to choose what I read and try to read novels and books of poems that are oriented around the concerns my poems are about. Today, I divided my work time between reading Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter and Stephen King’s Carrie.
Since I am finishing my MFA program now and have a good amount of unstructured free time, a really important part of my current writing practice is getting out of my own head. Reading is a great way to do that, and so is doing something outside, and so, honestly, is having a glass of wine. Today, I did all three. To get myself out of bed, I allowed myself to have a pack of Ritz cheese cracker sandwiches and watch a show on Netflix. Then, I worked my way up to starting Carrie, and then I ate again and watched T.V. and went on a run in the woods. I have really enjoyed running in March. I think the dead grass and salt roads contributes to the general sense of brightness. Then, I returned home, showered, and did my hair while reading The Scarlet Letter on my computer. After that, I went out with a friend of a friend who I want to get to know and had a glass of wine with her. Then, I had dinner at a grocery store and came back home to read Carrie, talk to my husband on the phone for an hour and then watch a T.V. show with him (he lives in another state), and then finally, around midnight, I decided to write a poem that engages with Carrie.
Living alone (well, having my own room anyway), I often find myself shoving the poem until the end of the day. This ensures that I won’t spend the day tinkering or obsessing. Also, I have always liked the irresponsibility of staying up late, and I like lending this feeling of indulgence and rebellion to writing. When I am with my husband, I can’t stay up that late, and I can still hear him in my head telling me to just go to bed. Especially since I already have a migraine. But no, I stay up and write this poem and then I stay up and write a blog post about this day in the life.
Amanda Auerbach currently divides her time between Boulder and Iowa City. Her first book What Need Have We For Such as We was published by C&R Press in November 2019. Her poems have appeared in a number of journals including the Paris Review, Kenyon Review, Fence, and New Delta Review.