New Year’s Eve: Closing the Book of 2021

It’s the break of day, New Year’s Eve. I’m writing from the warm, night-morning-darkness of my living room, the only light is that of decorative twinkle and the snow glow outside. My holiday boon is scattered on the nearby table, gifts that are already page-tabbed and folded open. I’ve finished Amy Butcher’s Mother Trucker, and working through Robert Hass’s Time and Materials by day and by night, Ken Gould’s mystery, Death’s Grip, along with Kerstin Ekman’s Scandia Noir read, Under the Snow. As is the case with readers, these are 4 named titles. Waiting in the background sit short stacks of 24 additional titles, patiently awaiting their own cracks in spine. There is a new blank book awaiting rough writings in chicken scratch scrawl, bright beaded earrings, magnetic haiku and coffee poetry sets, and real coffee from a friend to accompany all of these wild ways to spend winter time.

Blue Canoe Writers has focused recent weekly meetings on the writings of Robert Bly, Adrienne Rich, Ada Limón, and now Robert Hass. I’m reminded once again of the reason behind the partnership of reading and writing and again consider the richness of my own writing when I’m actively reading. I’m thankful for this group of writer friends that meets via Zoom Tuesday night and has done so consistently since the onslaught of the pandemic, and long before then, but more in person and in homes, and even once on the tugboat Adak, and in parks. We are largely split between the communities of Sitka and Wrangell, so it makes sense that we turn to technology to keep our gatherings close.

I did not mail out near the number of submissions in 2021 that I have in previous years, a practice I need to return to in 2022 along with early morning daily writing, but the year gifted me with such a plethora of experiences and friendships and for these, I am incredibly grateful: Trips to Washington state for storytelling over gin and cards, forays into Portland for leisurely visits to Powell’s Books, and a month-long writing residency at Storyknife in Homer.

My writerly dreams are many. They are rooted in fantastical and real. They swing from wanting to park under folk singer James McMurtry’s hat for writing instruction to apprenticing with the poet Dave Bonta on Haiku and visual poetry, to once again meeting in face-to-face gatherings with Alaska writers, with all poets of all places, to talk writing. I want to settle on a title for my current work in progress, apply for far-flung summer writing residencies, and fill my burgeoning stack of blank books with words/werdz. It is the time of year that I return to Neil Gaiman’s wish, “May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art – write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.” I don’t know what 2022 will bring, but I can only hope for continued sweetness, creativity, and good surprise. And if you’re reading this, I extend that same wish to you. Best.

Poetry, noir, and coffee; winter’s perfect blend.

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