Archive for the ‘Septuagenarian’ Category

  • THE WRITING PROCESS-what I remember what I don’t

    Date: 2021.02.20 | Category: Assignments, Poetry, Septuagenarian, The Art of Writing | Response: 0

    The Writing Process-What I Remember; What I Don’t

     

    A student once said to me that she appreciated me telling the class to keep everything.  Keep each and every draft of your writing, your manuscript.  Did I say that?

     

    Actually, I save nothing.  Okay, next to nothing.  When did I start letting go? It’s not about keeping what brings me joy.  My writing isn’t joyful.  Although, someone once said it had sass.

     

    I have always decluttered.  Every two or three months I purge-this includes not only things, but sometimes, people (sometimes they purge me).  But since the Pandemic, actually even before, I started a momentous purge—maybe it was when I turned 70 and knew any day now could be my last and why make my children go through my things, things they wouldn’t want.  Even worse, if they, without paying any attention to who I was, threw them out without a nod or a recognition.

     

    My office files are fairly pristine.  Sorted, labeled, shelved:  insurance, taxes, car, condo, publications—mine and those of my friends.  Yet, as the piles of my essays and poems thin, I am heart struck to notice a journey of words that repeat, that sail forth, that bring me to my writing/life today at the age of 73.

     

    I have a book forthcoming. March 2021, LHP:  Septuagenarian: love is what happens when I die. Now that’s a scary title if not understood as a metaphor.  The mock-up of the cover has the sub-title in small font size.  What does that mean?  Are we afraid of death?  Actually, the title came from a poem within the manuscript and it stuck, the line in the title, not the poem.  It’s a metaphor.  Clarissa Pinkola Estés said What must I give more death to today, in order to generate more life? I say, what must I let go of to generate love, be love, give love, get love.

     

    As I fumble through boxes of what I have not yet been able to discard, I discover a few poems that haven’t yet found their way to the trash.  One poem in particular, but there are others, starts out like this:

     

    “I woke up knowing I was dead.  The first thing I’ve been sure of all my life.  The marks stretched, some visible and some invisible.  Stretched past cardboard boxes.  None of them empty,  Each box filled with an arm or a leg.”

     

    The two-page poem contain boxes each labeled by a decade. It ends with:  “This was love.  She had finally gotten what she wanted.  But she was no longer who she was. She didn’t recognize herself….”

     

    The poem was dated October 15, 1999.  Only three years after I earned an MFA. There are hand-written revisions.  There is a short version printed in red.  A note says Vulva Riot.  There is a chorus that reads:  “Stretch marks, mark time, highway marks, passing marks, remarks, earmarks, market, marker, question marks, magic markers, grave markers, stretch marks.”

     

    Sometimes we don’t know why we say things, do things, save things—write things.  But there is significance to our actions.  I am glad I saved this poem. If I had come across it earlier, it would be in my book.  It would be the Introduction, the Foreword.  I am going to edit the poem.  This poem will not be discarded.  There are no rules I told my students.  Save all your drafts or don’t.  Discard everything so future generations won’t be bothered, or save what has been your life line and hope someone will embrace it.

     

    WRITING EXERCISE:  choose a word, such as mark and explore it and all related words by sound, by meaning, or both.  Create a chorus/a short verse.  Let it be the pattern that emerges.  How do you fill the empty spaces in-between?  Are they boxes marked by decades such as:

     

    “One box, marked 1953-1963, contained Hostess Cup Cakes.  Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup.  Barbie dolls.  Captain, May I.  Sorry.  Sugar and Spice.  Axel and His Dog. Captain Kangaroo. Nancy Drew. Bobbsey Twins.  The Little Engine That Could.  Pop Beads,  Roller Skates.  Crinolines. Hula Hoops.  Red Rover.  Pony Tails.  Our Redeemer Lutheran Church. Kool Aide. “Go Tell Aunt Rhody the Ol’ Gray Goose Is Dead”. The Salvation Army Book Store on Nicollet Island. Government Surplus.  A metal Grocery Cart.  Trading Cards.  Air Raid Drills.  Standish Elementary School.  Woolworths. Wonder Bread.”

     

    I probably did tell the student to save all of her writing.  I probably meant it.  Much of my writing, my former life was left behind when I made, yet another relationship move.  This one sudden.  Sometimes things aren’t saved because we can’t take them with us.  But sometimes, a book authored and signed by you to another poet will show up on a Google search and you know not everything is lost, it just might have found a new home.

     

    Sherry Quan Lee

    February 18, 2021

  • FOUND POEM

    Date: 2021.01.13 | Category: Assignments, LHP/MHP, Poetry, Septuagenarian | Response: 0

    FOUND POEM

    Attributed to Septuagenarian: love is what happens when I die (March 2021)

     

    One doesn’t have to imagine good and evil amidst all this terror

    sadness, the bones and the blood surrender

    we can make a difference we are all somebody

    we are not on the backs on the backs on the backs

    of sorrow

     

    that preceded

     

    head separated from body

    body separated from country

    family separated

     

    love guarantees memory        madness

    guns in white rooms the ghost

    of a man an unholy ghost trying to rewrite the story

     

    what if what if what if asking the questions is [not] enough; sometimes

     

    I feel like a boxer punching    the world

    is heavy that’s when the silence is broken

    not with words but with images   children

     

    didn’t know what to make of the bickering

    children got lost in the silences babies suffering;

    the father the mother the siblings gone

    a newspaper headline

     

    to the wicked and the wise there is a difference

    between opinion and truth, a space where dying

    to love where freedom is clearly not where in the world we are

     

    divisive and our lives are at risk

    tolerate a difficult word; racism, white men with assault rifles; death

     

    is temporary

     

    history implodes on a regular irregular heartbeat the charade is over this year

     

    love

    like a sorcerer reads palms this is love choking on air,

    ready to survive pedestals

    collapse amidst a pandemic

     

    hallelujah!

     

    as I sip my morning coffee it is grief it is death it is love;

    hate travels the ♥ broken is what saves us.

     

    © Sherry Quan Lee January 12, 2021

     

    ASSIGNMENT: I’ve been thinking about the recent insurrection at the capitol, the fast and flowing media coverage, the attempts to oust the 45th, etc.  My thought was, as a poet, I should write a found poem based on various print and even video media; but, I thought it would be complicated because of copyright, what is fair use, and how to attribute my sources (unless there is no thought of publishing it).  Instead, I turned to my own writing using only text from my forthcoming book.  Try this as an assignment, use words and phrases from what you have previously written and “find” a poem. I started with a goal in mind, to discover what I might have, perhaps unknowingly, said beyond the personal, have I entered the world?  Having a theme in mind isn’t necessary, it is enough to just randomly choose words and phrases you are drawn to as you reread what you have written over a particular span of time.

    NOTE: The poem published here is a first draft.

  • FROM LOVE IMAGINED TO THE POSSIBILITY OF LOVE

    Date: 2020.12.17 | Category: Septuagenarian | Response: 0

    From Love Imagined to the possibility of Love-Septuagenarian: love is what happens when I die.

     

    If you’re not familiar with the writer I am, here’s a brief bio:

     

    I started writing in 2nd grade, but began a serious writing career in my early 30’s when I realized there were no books about a mixed-race person growing up passing for white—so I had to write it.  It took me 20 years to earn an undergraduate degree, which I focused on writing and multi-cultural studies.  Ten years later I entered an MFA program focusing on creative non-fiction and poetry. Since, I have taught creative writing at Metro State University; and, written several books.

     

    Three years ago I began writing a book of poems, Oh So Wild Oh So Beautiful.  Two years ago the book became a book of prose.  Last year the book, a memoir, returned to poetry with a new title, Septuagenarian: love is what happens when I die; and, this year, December 2020, the final manuscript was submitted and will be published March 2021.

     

    2020 was a difficult year for so many for so many reasons.  I had to remind myself that not everyone can be out in the streets protesting, but there is something we can all do to fight injustice.  I had to remind myself I am a writer and I can write.  And that’s what I did.  I wrote poems for an online anthology, A Moment of Silence.  I wrote an endorsement for a Minnesota Senate hopeful.  And, deep reflection went into my memoir which included the letting go of shame, the ability to forgive, and the acceptance that survival is a commendable act of resistance.  Septuagenarian also was the response to Love Imagined: a mixed-race memoirSeptuagenarian is the possibility of love; yes, even at the age of 72.

Artist Statement

Sherry Quan Lee approaches writing as a community resource and as culturally based art of an ordinary everyday practical aesthetic. Lee is a Community Instructor at Metropolitan State University (Intro to Creative Writing, Advanced Creative Writing), and has taught at Intermedia Arts, and the Loft Literary Center. She is the author of A Little Mixed Up, Guild Press, 1982 (second printing), Chinese Blackbird, a memoir in verse, published 2002 by the Asian American Renaissance, republished 2008 by Loving Healing Press, and How to Write a Suicide Note: serial essays that saved a woman’s life, Loving Healing Press, 2008.

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SHERRY QUAN LEE

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SEPTUAGENARIAN

Septuagenarian by Sherry Quan Lee

GOODREADS GIVEAWAY

Goodreads Book Giveaway

How Dare We! Write by Sherry Quan Lee

How Dare We! Write

by Sherry Quan Lee

Giveaway ends June 09, 2021.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

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HOW DARE WE! WRITE

LOVE IMAGINED

Love Imagined book by Sherry Quan Lee

CHINESE BLACKBIRD

Chinese Blackbird Book by Sherry Quan Lee

HOW TO WRITE A SUICIDE NOTE

How to Write a Suicide Note by Sherry Quan Lee

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