Well here we are, the end of another year gradually tattered and worn away to the frayed ends of its tapestry (and the usually-invisible-but-probably-essential polyesterish filaments that give the whole thing some chance of making it through a whole twelve months). (Probably not my best analogy, but then I’m married to a textile technologist.) It’s been a strange one. Not as bad for me personally as last year was, but still a tough year. Lots of distressing and unsettling things happening to people I care about, as well as a fair old mix of good and bad and pretty damn ugly. (But then, when is it not?) (Ok, last year. That was mostly ugly.)
Teaching has been a fairly full-on thing this year. Not entirely planned, but generally quite a lot of fun. I met some lovely new people, and had the absolute privilege of watching some of my students starting to unfurl into genuine poets. Whenever the work aspect of it all starts to feel a bit much, things like that give me back my sanity. My hope too, if I’m being really honest. Even if I’m not writing anything decent (sigh …), I am the cause of poetry in other people. And that has to count for something.
On which note, a flourish of trumpets for three of my students – Tracey Peterson and Valerie Creamer, who will be starting 2015 at the Hagley Writers’ Institute; and Gail Ingram who has been accepted into the 2015 Massey University Masters in Creative Writing course. Well done you three, and good luck for your studies. I’m so proud! (And planning to bask in the reflected glow, at least for a little while longer.)
I’ve survived my first year with takahē. I’ve had a few … interesting encounters, which I will probably write about, although not with any details that will identify the people involved to anyone other than themselves – seriously, there are people out there who do not have the faintest idea of what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour. (A general word of advice: do not attempt to enter a pissing contest with an editor. Especially one who blogs and is already considered to be a bit nasty.) But most of the people I’ve dealt with have been charming and very generous. I don’t think I’ve managed to wreck the magazine’s reputation just yet, and will endeavour to continue not to do so.
So, to wrap up with my personal tally for 2014? Poems appeared in Landfall, JAAM, Poetry NZ and the Essential New Zealand Poems anthology. So that’s good. Not so good is the completed poems score – four. Yep, the number that is one third the number of months in the year. Let me say it again: four. Sheesh. I can’t even claim that I was spending the time editing poems for Janus. (takahē, hell yes; Janus, ah, no.) I can remember when I used to write four poems a week. Ok, they were probably fairly crappy, but at least I was writing them. After a while everything starts to get rusty, and the amount of effort required to ratchet things up to a decent standard in the writing department becomes almost overwhelming. And then there’s the whole performance-anxiety thing – ‘Oh god, I haven’t written anything for ages, so this had better be good.’ If there’s a better creative equivalent to a month on codeine and an all-egg diet, I’ve yet to come across it. But there you go, and if pointless self-flagelation were an Olympic Sport, I’d be the subject of a bidding war between my native and adopted countries.
I don’t tend to make New Year’s Resolutions, but I will leave you with a general wish. That things will be kind next year. The muse to me would be good. Me to myself would also be a good thing. Us to each other would be pretty splendid. So that’s my wish, universe: that 2015 be the year of general kindness. It’s a vastly under-rated quality, but it’s one of those things that deepens enormously in value when you think a bit about the implications. A bit like the Wiccan Rede.
A year of general kindness. Doesn’t sound like too much to ask for, does it?