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 process notes in the form of prose poems by Micah Ballard are part of her curriculum for her Poetry Workshop at the University of San Francisco in their MFA Program for Spring semester of 2023.
IN THE VICINITY
If or when they return is the question that seems to be overlooked the most. To say that they’re legion sounds absurd but that’s what they want given how far they’re allowed to travel. Yet to where? The arrival is uneasiness met with no connection. The only lineage is that they come and go without a trace of visibility. Time requires their stain but the imprint is lost through confusion. Their patterns already embroidered for future circumstance, which may or may not occur given one’s allegiance to the orders. To move away from them is to wear a mask that’s lifted as soon as they discover something’s different. They seem to be attracted to moments when there’s a lull in intuition. Seconds are their weapon of choice and each one’s a debut screening in search for a new pattern of replication. When the gift of avoidance works, they still show up in dreams and rations or increases details depending on what weight they decide to offer. Any deliverance from their measure depends upon self-medication of the DIY sort or at least enough space to ride out the impending frequencies in silence. Company helps but it’s never a two-way mirror unless its energy can be transferred to someone else for deciphering. If it does, thought reigns over feeling and the result is the latter being increased by a diminished capacity of the former. They tend to move in opposite directions until their discharge can be experienced through the various mediums given for their release. They prefer not to be named, though their primary one is presently at work.
BUMPS & HOLLOWS
You start in the middle of a vibration. Things are received in between things and invite you to exist within them. They let you talk and do whatever you want. The requirement is to be there while not being there. Sometimes other presences are in demand and you have to stay in your own lane as invitee or guest of an ordering that doesn’t want to be known or figured out. No one is here for some grand cartography but instead to participate in trusting the light and dark and realize when to snuff out the candles. The ceiling tells me we are ushers among ushers whose only correspondence is with tongues, not knowing who are what they are. Okay. Guess it’s useful to hang out and hang on, no questions. No one likes a rat. Plus, I know there are others before and after with other times and it’s good to get used to their banter. They want you there as much as you do them but won’t admit until last minute. As in “I already became you when you didn’t know me and now you are me without knowing; or, why am I you now and you don’t know; or why are we each other at the same time!?” Lots of declarative questions, i.e. we need to be reminded why we are interested in each other. Fine, I’m totally present. You know more than I know. You know more than I know. You know more than I know. C’mon John Cale, stop skipping. Let me play centerfield on this record!
Micah Ballard is the author of over a dozen books of poetry including Waifs and Strays (City Lights Books), Afterlives (Bootstrap Press), The Michaux Notebook (FMSBW), Parish Krewes (Bootstrap Press), Selected Prose, 2008-19 (Blue Press), Evangeline Downs (Ugly Duckling Presse), Daily Vigs (Bird & Beckett Books), Vesper Chimes (Gas Meter), Muddy Waters (State Champs), and Negative Capability in the Verse of John Wieners (Bootstrap Press), with a further title forthcoming from above/ground press. He lives in San Francisco with poet Sunnylyn Thibodeaux and their daughter Lorca.
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. Along with Dawn Angelicca Barcelona and Mary Volmer, she is a
co-founder of Maker, Mentor, Muse, a new literary community. mawsheinwin.com