My Poems Were Rejected For Being Sentimental by Miriam Sagan

And that surprised me, although I’m always interested in editorial feedback. Obviously a difference of aesthetic between me and this publication for short poems. However, it got me thinking.
I think of sentimentality as superficial positive emotion instead of authentic feeling. The dead person we grieve was a saint. Mothers are perfect. You, my darling, bring to mind only hearts and kisses.
But I’m not against passion, admiration, desire, mad love. In fact, I like those things.

Here is one of the rejected poems:

is no longer a planet
but you’re still
in my bed
no one knows
how to understand

Perhaps it is a bit sentimental? At least, it has sentiment. I’d hope that Pluto and the words gravitational wobble would keep it off a Hallmark card. I also think “in my bed” if not cynical certainly isn’t gushy. So, we have a bit of science, a bit of the mystery of love…yes indeed, I did write this poem. In any case, it’s mine.

Haiku Sign in the Snow

My front yard has never looked better…

The full haiku is

At the new moon
bit by bit
everything hushes

It is by Chiyo-no, translated by me and Isabel Winson-Sagan. On recycled metal signs–you need to walk two blocks of Kathryn (start at 600 block and go north) and then one on Cortez (back to 600 block) to find it. It is also geocached.

Photograph by Isabel Winson-Sagan.

Why I Like The Word “Crippled” by Miriam Sagan

Why I Like The Word “Crippled”

I used the word “crippled” recently, and it didn’t go over well. People suggested I use disabled or something a little gentler. And this is my own fault. I’m somewhat in the closet.
Readers of this blog, my former HR, my doctors, family, and close friends know I’m…crippled. And that’s what I am. My right leg doesn’t work well. (Nor does my right lung, my right arm, my right ribcage, etc.) And SOMETHING crippled me—swine flu, pleurisy, thoracotomy cut, scar tissue. However, be that as it may, I look fine on the surface, particularly if I’m sitting down. I’m aware that everyone has problems, issues, ailments. I don’t want to stand out.
Is this a mistake?
Probably even if I come out of this particular closet the word “cripple” will still be rude. However, disability activists younger and hipper than me say it is ok to use whatever word you want to self-describe. Certainly many a rude word has been reclaimed that way.
Reasons to not come out in any situation (with a little risk assessment):
1. People will offer well meaning advice I have not asked for. Have I considered massage? Might I try to get off painkillers? I’ve been living in this particular version of my body for forty-five years. If I need advice, rest assured, I’ll ask.
2. People will pity me. Probably will. Maybe that’s ok, although I’d prefer protestations of desperate love or madly jealous admiration. Can’t have everything.
3. People will be cruel to me. A risk, to be sure. When I add my cane to my life—visibly coming out—people have been quite nasty at times. But mostly on airplanes, where people are already nasty.
Reasons to come out:
1. It’s honest (something which I am not completely.) This doesn’t seem super motivating.
2. It’s intimate. This is more motivational.
3. It’s true. Different than honest—not about me, but about reality. Which I’m in favor of.
And maybe people already know. And maybe they are not that interested? All of us tend to be mostly focused on…ourselves. Maybe what is on my mind really isn’t that big a deal to others.

Interview with Gary Gach–Question 3–Do you consider haiku to be poetry like other forms?

3 Do you consider haiku to be poetry like other forms? 

Well, I never say, “haiku poetry,” as I hear some people do. Is there such a thing? If so, how about “sonnet poetry”? A case could be made for haiku not being poetry, at all. It doesn’t rhyme. There’s no meter. 99% are invariably untitled. They don’t deal in intellect, per se. Rarely do we see figures of speech. They don’t necessarily begin from any intention. And so on. Seen through the lens of poetry, they are certainly a special case. I sometimes think of haiku as a singular practice of a kind of phenomenology, rather than poetry.

 The argument seems similar to whether or not Buddhism is a religion. Buddhism has no creator deity, no First Cause, no punishment nor reward, etc. Yet it answers the spiritual needs which religion in general is called to do. 

How’s this? – If poetry puts language under the lens of a magnifying glass, haiku looks at poetics (what makes poetry so) through an electron microscope.

New Chapbook! Which cover image do you like?

Flutter Press closed down, and that was disheartening, as I love their work and had been thinking of them for a new chapbook. Then editor Sandy Benitez started up again! And accepted my collection of poems written in Japan in January, 2018, “Ikisan Station.” Flutter has a simple elegant micro press approach, technology by Lulu, and a generous ongoing author’s discount.
I was dithering about whether or not to put all the Japan poems together. I know the fashion in collections is thematic, at the moment, but I have mixed feelings about that for myself. Sometimes my thematic work doesn’t feel strong enough. For example, I could never get the Iceland poems (summer and winter) to jell as one book. So a batch are appearing in my new book “Luminosity”–out in May 2019 from Duck Lake Books. That collection is partially clustered in terms of theme, partially not. Robert Winson (my first husband and an excellent editor) criticized me for not including my less formal and slightly weirded poems when I put a manuscript together. “Luminosity” should have some quirks. As does “Ikisan Station.”
These poems were written at Studio Kura (Itoshima), in the chilly House 3, a traditional style agricultural house with a tile roof and sliding screens. The wind whistles in many of these poems, beneath snowy mountains, the smell of the sea. I wrote some too at our air BnB in Tokyo, Zen House, in a neighborhood of old fashioned food stalls and unlimited tasty things to eat, sitting on the roof top porch.
I added in three haibun, which give an unusually narrative grounding to the poetry–which I found it needed. It’s not that easy to add in a batch of haiku without them seeming like an afterthought, but obviously writing haiku in English in Japan had a level of creative challenge, and I wanted to include that.
At Kura I was super focused on the collaborative project for Maternal Mitochondria with Isabel Winson-Sagan. We did our video and suminagashi installation in an ancient square grain storage room, and a haiku and teapot geocached path in a local garden. These poems were almost like outtakes–written early in the morning before the shared events of the day.
Photos of course by Isabel. Which do you like for the cover. Should one be on the back–a smaller image?