Anti-Heroin Chic

It’s November.  It’s dark.  I’m plugging Vitamin D and my happy light like it’s nobody’s business.  It’s also six days shy of the two-year marker of when Bruce died all too suddenly.  On my darn birthday.

The following summer, I took off north for a couple of months.  I had been awarded a month-long writing residency through Alderworks Writers & Artists Retreat.  Let me tell you, a month holed up in a cabin is balm for the soul.  I read a lot, books like Carmen R. Gillespie’s The Blue Black Wet of Wood and Karen A. Tschannen’s Apportioning the Light.  I read poetry by Emily Wall, Raquel Vasquez Gilliland, Joanna Lilley, Gord Downie of Tragically Hip fame, Margaret Atwood, Carlos Reyes, Gary Snyder, C.D. Wright, James Wright.  I read books on grieving, books by Pico Iyer and started to read Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way.

But I also wrote.  A lot.  I sifted through the winter’s writing, buried the poems that were too dark, unformed and worked with those that maybe flashed a bit of spark.  My intent was to assemble a collection of poems on bereavement and accomplished that.  A manuscript tentatively titled Clutter & Scree emerged from those efforts.  It shuffled from the table I worked at in a little cabin to the entry in a writing contest with this little niggling thought that this collection wasn’t fully ready or vetted. The poems felt too raw, too close, and frankly, on the other side of hitting submit, I wasn’t quite certain I wanted such a narrowly focused collection to my name.

To say I miss Bruce is a gross understatement.  For 25 years we savored this amazing life together, covered so much wild space, and still, two years out, I feel adrift.  I never felt unmoored with Bruce, in fact, quite the opposite.  So to abandon the intent of Clutter & Scree came to make perfect sense.  A year later, a second draft emerged from the ashes of Clutter & Scree.  Curating the House of Nostalgia (Sheila-Na-Gig Editions) will publish in the spring.  Bereavement may skirt the shadows of my writing, but I don’t want it to be the sole focus, the motif, of a body of work.

So I offer my sincere gratitude to editor James Diaz for including a couple of my poems in Anti-Heroin Chic’s November issue, Grief & Loss.  Both are poems that emerged from this grieving path that wanted to see the light of day. And they are in such fine company.  It’s November.  It’s dark.  And there’s comfort in reading this issue slowly and with intention.

From Anti-Heroin Chic:  Our grief and loss issue is now live. Thank you to everyone who shared a piece of their heart and their loss with us. Beyond all else, in reading each of your pieces, it helped us to grieve and to mend, our hope is that it helped you as well, and now, the world.


Author: kerstenchristianson

Kersten Christianson is a raven-watching, moon-gazing, high school English-teaching Alaskan. She serves as poetry editor of the quarterly journal Alaska Women Speak. Her latest collection of poetry is Curating the House of Nostalgia (Sheila-Na-Gig Editions, 2020). Kersten holds an MFA from the University of Alaska. @kerstenak

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