Around 5 o’clock tonight, I will read my first published poem at the launch party for the Belmont Literary Journal. The poem is called “Texas Doesn’t Miss You,” and up until now, I’ve kept it very close to me, only letting a few people read it. I don’t even think my mom has read this one. It’s very personal but in a way that’s not exactly clear at first glance.
I wrote “Texas Doesn’t Miss You” for my creative writing class last semester. The idea for it was developed after reading Linda Gregg’s essay “The Art of Finding.” In the essay, she develops the idea of resonant sources and how they ought to guide the emotion and imagery of your poetry. I would go so far as to say that this concept applies to all writing, because these resonant sources are the wells of collected experiences that you draw from in order to create… well, pretty much anything. After reading Gregg’s essay in class, we each made a list of our personal resonant sources. At the top of my list: Texas.
Now that I’m looking back at this sheet of paper, I’m not sure how Texas ended up at the top of the list. It doesn’t make sense that it beat out other resonant sources like sisterhood, performing, introspection, taking walks, or my parents’ divorce; things that make up most of what I write about and experience on a daily basis. But there’s Texas at the top of my list. Surely that means something.
It probably means I was homesick that day, ready to go home for Thanksgiving or Christmas break.
Or maybe it was an indication that I felt misplaced; sad and lonely for no apparent reason.
But more likely than not, Texas showing up at the top of my resonant sources list is a matter of pride and of expansiveness. Heat that covers you like a blanket, and thunderstorms that rage like giant toddlers. It’s my mom’s perfected art of hot rollers, and our old backyard, long and flat with no trees. When I think of Texas, I think of walking on the pavement without shoes and the heavy, earthy smell of warm dirt. Too many cowboy themed parties and never enough Tex-Mex. “Snow days” and State Fair days; megachurches and megamalls. A clear view of the sky, day and night, and oh, the stars, big and luscious as ripe blackberries. As soon as I start making lists like this, the sensory details come rushing back at me all at once, like a gust of wind. In my memory, I can put myself back there, to a day where all of this could have happened. And before I know it, I am no longer writing a poem, but I am pouring myself out, crying because I am so stupidly in love with Texas. Texas is the setting of all of my memories and the standard by which I evaluate the new ones. For me, Texas touches everything.
And you wonder why Texans have so much state pride.
When you read “Texas Doesn’t Miss You,” I hope that somewhere inside your head you can hear the anguish and the love expended when I wrote this. To me, reading this poem is like a kick in the gut. I guess it kicked some of my fellow BLJ editors, too, because they picked it out of a huge selection of beautiful poems. I was shocked and honored when I got the acceptance e-mail. Never in a million years would I have believed that I was a poet.
But I guess I am. And I have Texas to thank for that.
All my love,
Here’s a link to the poem and our 2014 edition of the Belmont Literary Journal: http://www.belmontlitjournal.com/poetry-posts/2014/3/26/texas-doesnt-miss-you