Knock-knock from somewhere cool (and not that cold) in Leipzig. I wish I could put this first blog post in poetry form. That’s what I used to do for a diary when I was a kid, pretty much all my entries were poems. But this will have to do for now. The new season of House of Cards is on. I had gummies in bed instead of lunch. Hard to be ultra-creative at the moment.
I used to be a natural writer once. (I know, hard to believe, right?) Creative writing flowed out of me almost as often as talk. It flowed freely, unburdened by concern for how good it actually was or what people might think. I wrote one early ex about 50 (mostly painful to read) poems. I’ve lost count of how many novels I’ve started. I’d write bombastic, pseudo-philosophical opinion pieces for a Web site and rile readers who thought I was too young and green to be able to analyze anything. As I “ripened,” the faucet began to run dry – although I still wrote, wrote all day five days a week, for a living. I became a newspaper writer in the southern U.S. I had to write into a template, and be careful about everything I wrote and anything I said in public. As the supply of easy-to-write-about figurative explosions petered out, I began to produce largely synthetic sausage (as in writing that tasted like cardboard), and my lack of inspiration and drive were obvious. But then they encouraged me to blog to attract readers to the newspaper Web site, and I found poetry again. (I was still writing the blog in AP Style, so I hadn’t lost my way.) I could express myself through the blog as long as I kept it confined to feelings about personal, apolitical situations. I must confess that I still fear being political in public, because I don’t want to lose friends over the uncouth bullshit that may come out of my mouth, or keyboard.
Quick tangent: I say that heartache is almost worth it because it gives you something to write about that doesn’t require scientific research, fact-checking or putting your ass on the line. And my crazy 20-something-year-old self created plenty of heartache to poeticize. These days I am a little bit less addicted to drama, though certainly not immune to its allure. So don’t worry, you may still find me wearing misery chic while stopped at some pedestrian light somewhere cool in Leipzig, (electronic) notepad in tow.
Back to the main thread: I welcomed and encouraged others to express themselves on my newspaper-hosted poetry blog too, and we grew into a little community which, beyond interactions on the blog, would meet regularly. We’d share and perform our work in front of each other and our niche audience in a small but very hip southern U.S. town (as a handful of small southern U.S. towns somehow tend to be). This became the spring in my step as I coped with routine and largely self-inflicted, boredom-bending heartache, and my mental faucet began once again to spew out more than sausage. But then I moved abroad – for the second time. And got distracted – like always.
I was little more than a cub when I quit journalism, never having made it to the point where I could actually have some kind of a voice in the business. Along with my media career, I left the U.S. and joined academia in Europe – studied first in Denmark and then in Poland, then progressed to the next level in a largely English-language international program in Germany. I was lucky to land in another very hip (small) city – meaning this Leipzig here – and met talented writers and other artists while out and about, even sang at a few open mics, but once again my writing hit a proverbial wall. I have been producing relatively a lot of text, and the writing does feel more incisive and more like my own than it did in journalism. However, it’s part of the process to have my peers constantly pick it apart and analyze almost every word. Every major term is supposed to be loaded with meaning and certain theoretical strands, and I have to explain it carefully in my writing, and to sound scientific, balanced and credible while trying not to be too verbose and boring. A tall order, indeed, and one that all but paralyzed my creative writing.
It was learning German, a break from my English-language academic writing, that brought me back to poetry. I found myself on a bus from Berlin to Leipzig writing a very basic-worded break-up poem in German, just for practice. (I will share said poem here once it has been properly proofread.) The next morning, I found by accident some of the posts from my old poetry blog still online. These two moments immediately converged into finally setting up a new forum for creative expression for myself and others. It took only a couple of clicks to set up a new blog. And a couple more clicks to announce it on social media. So here we are. Who knows where this road will lead us, but hopefully at least on brief springy, inspired detours from routine, wherever we are. Routine is our common curse and our common blessing, depending on the moment in life. In any case, we deserve to be able to make and consume more than sausage (sorry, German food enthusiasts).
I realize this was a long “hello,” but someone had to do it. If you want to avoid running into a barrage of ramblings by moi – because I do need to fill this space, or else what’s the point of having it – send me some of your own creative stuff, like poems, artwork or essays, to post here.
– Ana Beatriz Ribeiro, editor