Tuesday Review: Landscape of The Wait by Jami Macarty

IMG_7439

I have not blogged in a long while, but I am getting back to it. I am going to start a new Tuesday Review series, where I review books of poems that I come across. I couldn’t think of a better way to launch the series than to start with poet Jami Macarty’s new chapbook book of poems Landscape of The Wait, published this year by Finishing Line Press.

With hauntingly beautiful images, Macarty maps a territory no parent wants to step foot in, let alone chart. She not only maps it, she paints it with painstaking precision and beauty, such that we can’t help but follow her into a space we would prefer never to go. In the collection, the poems traverse the heartbreaking landscape that a parent inhabits as she sits vigil over her adult child who lies in coma following a car accident.

The title poem, “Landscape of The Wait” lays it out there in lines that look and feel in some way like the lines of a map, the roads that start and end with words and brief thoughts that must, in those moments when it’s hard to know when or if to grieve or when or if to celebrate any small victory, feel disconnected.

wait

                           monitor                        when or ever

our want

                                                                  his eyes to open

doubt large now

                             breath or gravel

each instinct’s 

                            trance

 

Still, it’s the poem “Fracture” that opens the door, points the way in, both literally as the opening poem in the collection and figuratively as a map of how to cross from what was into the “wait.”

where I pull over                            to listen to

                                                       the desolate

cellular voice

 

a hummingbird                               needles weeds

invading                                          the clear felling

 

 

where pell-mell insterstate             his body

                                                       through the car window

happens happens happens      

Each moment in that moment of sudden awareness is fractured and we begin to see as Macarty does that the moments will never come together in the same way again. It’s not simply they way she carefully unfurls the images, however, it’s the way she uses the page that gives us the full impact of those vast extended moments.

son                                                          a shadowed Now

where days of no change                  extend beyond

days                                                       of change

Even in those poems where the images come at you with no break, there is a feel of floating, being suspended, in a space where there is no way to know where the roads end or begin or if they are even grounded in anyway. The poem “At the Time of Accident” shows this in a visceral way as we are given the son’s image of the accident as the poet imagines it in a montage of images that give us a sense of slow-motion suspension. We being to clearly feel the surreal nature of the wait.

airborne, he thought. hang-

ing on time’s lost line

suffer suspension,

he thought. near-sighted

horizon. no or-

dinary flying

In the end, there is no destination that this map can take the reader that is outside the wait. It doesn’t end. It suspends us in the landscape of waiting.  All there is is the wait, the continued space that Macarty calls to with heartbreaking longing in the poem “If Only What If.”

If only you took the back way

what if, approaching the toll booth, you pull over to search for change

if only your radio operative

what if the iPod had yet to be invented

if only the semi driver called in sick

what if he stopped for gas

~

If only no caveats with extended footnotes

if only attentive to randomness, exception

if no matter the unlocking, day can become road scarring

if no one deserves this, certainly not you

Macarty teaches contemporary poetry and creative writing at Simon Fraser University. She also advises and edits the online poetry journal The Maynard. Her chapbook collection Landscape of The Wait can be purchased at Finishing Line Press, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon.

Advertisements

Will Ferrell is Will Ferrell: Making a Case for Shelving the Fallback Plan

image for blog
Remember your dreams and fight for them. You must know what you want from life. There is just one thing that makes your dream become impossible: the fear of failure. –Paulo Coelho

This thing, this calling, chose me. That’s how it feels, anyway. I have tried other things, other somewhat more lucrative things, other somewhat less risky things, but none have really given me more stability, per se. None have been lucrative enough or stable enough (or even stimulating enough) for me to say, “Hey, it’s been so worth it to spend my entire life working on a fallback plan,” but that’s what I have done.

I went to college on a fallback plan. I went to college again on a fallback plan. I finally went to college to focus on that thing, but have used the degree more to build the fallback plan than the actual thing. I even went to college one more time, trying yet again at a fallback plan. The point is, I have spent an inordinate amount of time trying to find a good fallback plan. In fact, I have spent the better part of the last 26 years trying to find a fallback plan instead of giving that thing the time it deserved, the time it wanted, because in that 26 years, when fallback plan after fallback plan fell apart, that thing was always there. That thing was building and growing and building and growing, because it chose me. It nags and won’t let go, and yet I am happy that it does so. While fallback plan after fallback plan has fallen apart, I have found minutes, scraped together minutes to give to that thing because I had to, because I wanted to so much that I had to. In those scraps of minutes, seeds were planted and gardens have grown. That’s not to say there aren’t moments when no matter how much I think that thing chose me, I doubt it and feel like an imposter. Still, that thing nags at me and won’t let me go.

Sometimes, I wish when it first began to nag me that someone would have said, this may be your thing. Listen to it, but I was told it’s best to have a fallback plan. I am a mom now. My kids have their things, and their things, like my thing, are not things that people readily tell them they should bet their futures on. In fact, I remember sitting in one my daughter’s IEP meetings where her teachers and counselors encouraged her thing, but also told her she should have a fallback plan and she should spend more time thinking about that fallback plan. I get what they meant, but I still should have said no. I didn’t say no. Back then, I was in the midst of trying yet another fallback plan that I didn’t know was destined to fail. That’s not to say I don’t say no now. I know better, I guess. I hear my daughter daily through the vent, in her room playing ukulele, singing, and composing original songs. I have seen my son spend hours reading waves, getting back on his surfboard after a fall, trying again and again because it is his thing. Maybe they will find something else. Maybe the thing will be the thing in some way. I don’t know. It’s really not my business to tell them they need to do it any other way. That I do know for sure.

I recently watched Will Ferrell’s 2017 USC commencement ceremony speech. Say what you will about Will Ferrell (I personally find him funny as hell), through his humor he delivered a profound message, at least that’s the way I heard it. He spoke of darts and in the face of his risky, frightening, “I may never make it” calling he kept throwing darts at the target hoping that one or two might stick. I get that. Only, unlike Will Ferrell, I threw them secretly or stole moments to throw them and really only gave myself the chance to throw relatively few darts. Still, some have stuck, like the one I threw at Finishing Line Press in May 2016, and now I am weeks away from the publication of my first book of poems. I am not going to imagine where I would be now if I just spent the time throwing darts instead of trying and failing to find a good fallback plan. I am just going to start throwing fists full of darts now.

Ultimately, though, we spend a lot of time telling dreamers they need a fallback plan, and they need to spend more time figuring that out that plan than doing that thing. We usually give reasons like “It’s hard to make it doing that” or “Not everyone can be Will Ferrell.” Yes, it’s hard to make it doing a lot of things. I know. Yes, not everyone can be Will Ferrell, but then Will Ferrell was once just an unknown guy who kept throwing dart after dart.

Exciting Publishing News

Trapani-Scott_Cristina_COV.jpgThis is the cover of my forthcoming chapbook of poems The Persistence of a Bathing Suit. The getting here has all been kind of crazy. The short of it is in Spring of last year I submitted my manuscript to Finishing Line Press for their New Women’s Voice competition last spring. At the same time my husband and I were in the process of selling our house and moving to Colorado. Flash forward a bunch of months and, on a whim, I happened to look at my submission manager site and noticed the manuscript was accepted, but I had not heard anything. I went to publisher’s website and also didn’t see anything.

As it turns out, I inadvertently opened two Submittable sites, one through the email I always use and one through the “login with Facebook” feature that is connected to my old email I rarely look at. All info on this had gone to my old email. The short of it is that the manuscript was a semi-finalist for the award, and I was offered a contract. Now, I am here looking at a tentative May 2017 release of my first book of poems. Here is the most amazing cover with photo taken by my talented pro photographer brother Paul Trapani and featuring his beautiful wife, my sister-in-law Leeann Berry.

I dig that the publisher has given me the freedom to make my family a part of this project. My family is a huge inspiration for this project. The poems explore what I call the “the in-between space” that for me emerged between surviving breast cancer (being a young survivor) and coming to terms with how to survive breast cancer. Most people think, “Yay, you survived and that’s awesome. Now you can move on.” It is awesome, but it also creates a starkly different space that for me meant a long period of adjustment. The journey is different for everyone. This is my journey and these poems examine the different perspectives of my journey throughout that space.

I am excited that these poems will be out in the world in some small way. Right now, the book can be preordered. The preorder period is key to the book’s release. I do have to sell a minimum of 55 books in presales for the initial press run. If you would like to order the book, you can order it here or by clicking the title of the book above or the link attached to the publisher.

This is the start of an exciting and incredible journey all its own. I’ve been working toward this goal amid all kinds of distractions for the better part of my adult life. I couldn’t have done it without my family and my mentors.