Friday, May 5, 2023

Process Note #16 : Connie Post

The 'process notes' pieces were originally solicited by Maw Shein Win as addendum to her teaching particular poems and poetry collections for various workshops and classes. These poems and process note by Connie Post are part of her curriculum for her Poetry Workshop at the University of San Francisco in their MFA Program for Spring semester of 2023.





As I started to assemble poems for my newest book, Between Twilight, I realized that one of the common threads was the celestial. How so much of our existence is built of out something most people rarely think about. We know we are connected to the universe, yet we don’t walk around doing daily tasks, going to work, being with those we love, thinking about how we are connected to stars and galaxies. If we do, it’s more likely on warm summer night or when the stars are out, or watching the eclipse, or a film or video about astronomy. Yet I feel myself drawn to that world, as my days go by. I feel often assembled and reassembled by a whole realm I don’t quite understand but also feels deeply a part of me. The title poem evokes this theme for me.

from Between Twilight (New York Quarterly Books, 2023)

Between Twilight

Let’s start with destruction
the decomposed bones
and walls collapsing after a strong wind

then go back
to how it was
before wholeness
before meteors
fell like rain

before shadows
understood their thirst
for light

before our bodies
became capsules
for sorrow

before you or I
had a name
and the nebulae and galaxies
accepted me
just as I was

waiting for a small portal
in the world
waiting for a place to enter
a womb
that needed an opening
a place for the dust of stars
to reconfigure themselves
as me

As the book came together, I contemplated more and more about the things betwixt and between. This is often where we find hidden wonders, stories we need to tell, secrets buried we thought had disappeared. It’s not easy finding what is between, but the journey can be rewarding. One of the areas that I explore a great deal is what we hold in our bodies, and what does our body try to tell us in the world between.  This is evidenced in this excerpt from a poem in the book, entitled Body Aches.  

Body Aches

When I sleep
for more than nine hours
my body aches all over
my bones
are preaching to me
about endings

During REM,
I see the cockroaches
that wait for me at the end of time
the sun that burns
through earth’s crust
the insomnia that
suffocates the living

the wormholes
have made their way
through the coarse skin
of twilight

Finally, I find the concept of time and its distortions fascinating. How the past is not the past as we experience it here on earth. How time is a false construct and how it may speed up or slow down depending on a complex series of science and math I don’t understand but long to.  Many poems in Between Twilight address how the past still lives inside us, how do we hold it, shape it and how do we move forward even with it is heavy and cumbersome. How do we see the earth differently now that mother nature has endured so much.  This next poem addresses these questions.

As Glaciers Retreat, They Give up the Bodies and Artifacts they Swallowed
Smithsonian May 27, 2015

The lungs of the earth
are rising and falling

the places of hiding
soon to be extinct

a polar ice cap recedes
a black box is found
and the final words
of the crew and passengers
of the 1952 plane crash
spill out from the mouths
of strangers
from a near by island

the maps
in the all of the school rooms
are leaking salt water
the walls already ruined

your bed is floating
in a river of your own demise

there may be a day
you think of me
when another glacier
falls into the ocean

you will move to higher ground
and I will swim
into the rising sea

We are our history, we are connected to the earth but also the universe. How do we make peace with all of the world, that exist inside us and external to us. These are questions I hope to explore in Between Twilight.

















Connie Post served as the first Poet Laureate of Livermore, California. Her work has appeared in Calyx, Cutthroat Magazine, Comstock Review, River Styx, The American Journal of Poetry, Spoon River Poetry Review, and Verse Daily. Her awards include the Liakoura Award, the Caesura Award, and the Crab Creek Review Poetry Award. Her first full length book Floodwater won the Lyrebird Award. Her second full length collection Prime Meridian was named a distinguished favorite in the Independent Press Awards. Her most recent collection Between Twilight was published by New York Quarterly books in February of 2023. Pulitzer Prize winning poet Diane Seuss says, “This honest voice, this exiled voice, comes through in poems that strike me as prayer. They seek mercy, not so much from a deity but from the world, and most significantly, from herself.”

Maw Shein Win's most recent poetry collection is Storage Unit for the Spirit House (Omnidawn) which was nominated for the Northern California Book Award in Poetry, longlisted for the PEN America Open Book Award, and shortlisted for CALIBA's Golden Poppy Award for Poetry. Win's previous collections include Invisible Gifts (Manic D Press) and two chapbooks Ruins of a glittering palace (SPA) and Score and Bone (Nomadic Press). Win’s Process Note Series features poets and their process, She is the inaugural poet laureate of El Cerrito, CA and teaches poetry in the MFA Program at the University of San Francisco. Win often collaborates with visual artists, musicians, and other writers and was recently selected as a 2023 YBCA 100 Honoree.

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