Read of the Day: “I Did Not Vanish: On Writing”
6:30 pm, June 26th | by Weiyu Li
Cynthia Cruz is a contemporary American poet who has published work in countless journals and magazines including The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and The American Poetry Review. Today’s Read of the Day is Cruz’s beautiful Rumpus essay on writing, risk and choosing life.
When I begin, I don’t know where I am going. Writing poetry is probably the only example in my life of that kind of risk. I’m terrified of change. I have fear when my daily structure is upset but here, working on my poems, I am able to practice risk, to enter not knowing and follow intuition: sound, music, movement. Not that entering the unknown isn’t also terrifying. It is. Writing is the one thing I put off doing. I can’t bear the thought of entering its rooms. I’d much rather waste my hours doing what I know: reading, cleaning the apartment, going online, daydreaming. To enter a poem is to enter a dream, awake.
But writing poems allows me mastery over a miniature universe. For those moments or hours, I am God of my kingdom. No one tells me how things go. No one can argue against me when I’m writing poems. When I am writing, I get to speak.
Anorexia was about making my world small. The world was too large for me. I was confronted with too many choices, so I made my world miniature, manageable. I still have a tendency to do this: isolating alone in my apartment, not making plans with friends, following the highly structured dictates of my day-to-day schedule. Then my world contracts, again. My life is a box, tamped down. I like it that way. Get up at six, pray, meditate, eat breakfast. Read the New York Times, write, answer emails.
I utilize this same structure, this same control, in my poems. The poem must sing, it must have music. Music and language and beauty and a tear of darkness. In poetry, I take what I don’t know, and follow the music, the sound, until the thing becomes a warped little song. I make meaning out of chaos.
To read the article in full, click here.