Thursday, December 31, 2020

2020 Year in Recap

2020 Recap. Hindsight is a funny thing. Here I am, in lockdown (it’s April), we’re in the middle of a pandemic, and I’m looking back into the window of the past to see what I can salvage or glean from my old work. Having nothing better to do than to visit old journals during this downtime in order to see if I could flesh out some of the lean years of poetry, I hit some rich pockets. (See below for recap details)

Dec. update. That said, I easily met my 52 poem quota for the year, and then some. I didn’t even have to resort to splitting linked haiku, or counting prose poems. My end-of-year total is a whopping 196 posts. My personal best, ever. Upping my game. Of course, the fire journals bulked it up. I also added another potential quota to my list—I will strive for 52 pieces of art a year. Don’t think I’ll make that quota this year, as I only thought of doing it in mid-December. Still, there’s hope. I’m at 28 pieces of art but there are only two days left in the year.

Publishing news: A poem I began in 2015, from a scrawny Facebook post, revised in 2019, was published in Spectrum 24, KILLING THE CAT, Don Kingfisher Campbell also published an aquarelle drawing of Arequipa, Peru, in B&W with less than stellar results. Finally my poem, True Chanterelles was finally published in Fungi magazine. TRUE CHANTERELLES originally written in 2013, was revised in 2018. A long publishing birth. But Art Goodtimes put a bid on it when it was barely a day old. It needed to ripen. Then he said load it up with Latinate names. And so I did. Three of my Solstice poems, one written for the occasion, THE APPROACH OF THE OLD YEAR, WRONG ROADS, and PERHAPS A GARDEN (Dec. 2019), were published and set to music by Kirk Whipple for a holiday Cranberry Covid Coast YouTube extravaganza, to be broadcast at a later date. Part Deux, two poems. Part Tres coming up.

Thanks to old Facebook entries, my 2019 posts which were an anemic 80 posts, have bulked up to 132 posts—I was not expecting that. My iPad was stolen in April 2019, and I lost some writing, but one poem came back home to me by way of Facebook memories. I was quite thrilled to find it. Not quite 52 poem posts total, but, close—as there are many prose poems—so I can put that task to bed. Finally. Small grace. I am pushing up on 4000 total posts since I began this blog process. OK, so it’s 3895. Hard to comprehend that much work, in a little over a half a lifetime.

Old work redux. I discovered several poems, and some golden folklore from my granny from 1982 in my 1983  Napa Poetry Conference journal, which is good, because I need to bring the up numbers for 1982. I was not expecting to find any more work from 1982 (I began this blog madness with only 11 entries), but I didn’t realize that I had copied several old poems into my Napa journal from 1983, hoping to revise some of them. Even more poems from 1983, not like I need them for that year, I’m up to 103 entries now, apparently it was a busy year. I managed to work on 1980 as well. If only I could figure out what poems I wrote in 1978, and 1980...I didn’t date my poems in those days. So unless I find a first draft, I can’t date them.

Speaking of my Napa journals, my 1985 journal has loads of new poems that have never seen daylight. But I may want to save that for later, and focus on the weak years first. That said, lots of poems to John Oliver Simon, our courtship, and I began this recap on his birthday. I can’t believe it’s been two years since he’s been gone. He is still with me after all these years.

I have yet to type up all my USSR journals, so 1989 and 1990 gained many, many entries. Next on deck, are my Amsterdam journals to 1996, I’ve manage to transcribe a few, but it’s fatiguing work. It looks like I finished most of the Azores Journals from 2001. No more work to glean there, unless it’s embedded within the folklore notes. I’ve still got untyped work and journal entries to add from 1990-93. It will keep for a while longer. The continued threat of Covid is a great slave driver, though.

I finally got those Dream Vessels online, a huge endeavor—only a few entries were lost. It was a nice surprise to discover that I had interesting Hawaii journals for 1991, the eclipse. It took me forever to get those years up to the bare minimum of 52 entries per year. My goal is to publish 52 poems per year. But beggars can’t be choosers. TG for journal entries, is all I can say. Journal entries are saving the lean years.

Earlier, I discovered several posts and poems from 1997, a particularly weak year, but I’m now up to 70 entries (it was 22). A success story. Unfortunately many of those entries are fulminations about Neil. I also found some Montana teaching entries. Worth the torture. I also picked up some 1998 entries, but at 32, I’ve a way to go yet—make that 50, but it’s been excruciating visiting those old journals. I’m getting there, but 1999 is even worse, at 21, make that 26 entries.

As it turns out the year 2000 fleshed itself out nicely as I found prose poems and oddities embedded in my notes from my classes at Berkeley and San Francisco State, a surprise, so 2000 is now officially off the epic fail list. I might make it yet. I found some drafts of poems in my teaching folders. The years 2003-6 may never flesh out. And I managed to boost 2003 to 42 from 39, and 2004, to 41 (wow). 2005 and 2006 are bleak at 20. 

Some of the lack of writing during those years is due to the fact that I lost a hard drive that I hadn’t backed up. But you never know....after spending an entire day salvaging files from old thumb drives, I found my SFSU Poetry Manifesto senior thesis paper, something I thought was irrevocably lost. It was also zipped with DiskDoubler, therefore a dead file, but I found an app to unpack it. Otherwise it was an unreadable grey brick.

During poetry month, I consolidated and scanned most of my poetry lessons. A huge amount of work, also a huge relief. Having to evacuate during the Kincade Fire, made me realize I had to abandon my teaching stuff, so I’ve been scanning teaching materials, and side notes, and the door prize was finding some in-class poems. And, now this years’s Walbridge Fire and LSU Complex has us on our toes (my 2nd evacuation this year). I’m relieved to say that most of my teaching stuff is scanned and culled. Nothing like a fire under your bum as a motivator.

Though I began this scanfest process in earnest in 2015, the entire West Coast of North America was burning (The Pacific Northwest is on fire) this mad urge to use my blog as a memento mori kicked into overdrive with the 2017 Tubbs Fire, when I realized the past was ephemera if it went up in smoke. So many people, including an aunt, lost everything. Photographs, mementos, their past. Everything gone. And the wildfires just keep on coming. year after year, this is the new normal—relentless devastation and distraction.

In October, after the second evacuation warning, I began scanning my massive negative archives. Having to haul three crates of negatives around proved to be too much for me, not to mention my knees. I need to streamline my memorabilia before it becomes ephemera. Or literally toast. The last strawman standing.

I am nearly done scanning my newspaper stories and negatives, I will give most of the negatives to the Sonoma County library. Still to finish, are the poet archives, and the arts teaching archives. So many surprises, photos of Robin Williams, famous musicians—Bo Diddily, Emmlou Harris, Country Joe, Mimi Fariña, Banana. I’ve been using Facebook to give photos back to everyone—some 30 years later. Better late than never. Now I need an online format to upload my photos. I created a test blog.

During the epidemic, Marin, and Sonoma County libraries opened up their newspaper archives to online readers, so many those press teaching and performance clippings I no longer have, I was able to glean in an electronic format. I don’t have access to the SF Examiner, or Chronicle, or Bay Guardian, so I may need to pay newspapers.com to access those articles, but it’s a mere handful.

Another surprise was finding my original notes for Mike Tuggle’s folklore. Folklore Parody song to tune of Auld Lang Syne   It’s filed under 2001, but I never finished it. Apparently I began collecting notes in earnest in 2003. Maybe earlier, because it’s undated and the last entry in the back of a journal dated 2001- 2003. Mike Tuggle on By Request. I had more than 40 pieces of folklore for Alan Dundes’ class, and I may have shelved it. I was also able to finish the Bronze Age musicology notes, and the final piece on my Pat Wall modern art series. Two pieces I couldn’t seem to bring myself to finish.

I began writing this end-of-year post in April with a future end-of-year publishing date—with or without me—as none of us knows if we’ll fall to the dread coronavirus. If we make it out alive, that is. The lyrics of the song go if I ever get out of this world alive, has become my mantra. O brave New World. I don’t have children, but I do have relations, and a few unexpected new ones (nephews) too thanks to Ancestry .com, so this blog is my progeny, what will survive me until the Internet fails. And you, my dear readers, are my inheritors.

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