In a year where so many brutal and painful moments have taken place, it is difficult to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Perhaps we are hoping that light is an oncoming train? Or at the very least, it will be a reprieve from the wounds we have collected in this year. I've watched bridges burn, some necessarily some by mistake, and some by lighting the match myself. I feel...indifferent about most of it. Some days those bridges are not worth crossing, especially when I use to travel to those lands as often as I did...I think I am losing my metaphor here.
Anyway, I haven't been keeping up with so many things in the latter half of 2020. I've missed keeping up with the blog, the podcast, and with posting regular art and poetry. These busy things which have kept my attention elsewhere have been predominantly great! Occasionally I find myself wishing I could give up most other work and focus on my creating, but alas, the world we live in doesn't always allow us to pay bills or more when we only do the work we want. Still, I wonder what it looks like to go all in on the dreams and cash out on the "have-to-be-done's?"
In October, I painted this piece of fan art for The Mandalorian on Disney+. What is exciting about this is that painting and sketching has led to a lot of amazing opportunities over the last few years. Can't wait to show you what I am working on now (but can't yet)!
In the meantime, I wrote an essay about protest art--protest music more specifically. Music from the 60's-70's that were influenced by the circumstances of the world and also influenced a generation of rebels and protestors looking for a different type fo freedom than was being offered at the time. Sometime next month (January?) maybe I'll share it here for people to read. I found the research fascinating and the music outstanding. In fact, I made a playlist for the music I wrote about (including some extra tunes) that can be found on Spotify. Check it out if you'd like.
Along with this essay, I put together a poetry portfolio of work I had the pleasure of workshopping with an amazing group of poets. During this time, I was made aware of an idea I thought fascinating.
Woah! Nick, revisions? That's not a new idea.
Yeah, I know. But often I find myself thinking of revisions as simple tasks alignments like editing, or "fine tuning" a piece. But in the truest sense of the word, revision is to see it again-see it new-see it differently-see it unlike as it was, and that is a beautifully freeing idea. As I have been writing, my revisions have been coming from a place of seeing the piece(s) differently, then rewriting the poem altogether.
In doing so, I am asking myself these questions about my writing like:
What question(s) am I asking?
What answer(s) am I willing to give?
And challenging myself with intentional constraints like:
Do not use tired metaphors.
Do not tell the reader, show them.
That obviously is not an exhaustive list, but it has been a start to something helpful in the emotionally draining experience that is 2020. To write with intent, but leaving room for expression isn't easy. Sometimes we word vomit (like I am doing now) and other times we carefully select each syllable in the hopes it conveys a meaning beyond ourselves. It's difficult for me to walk the line of refinement.
The following is a poem I recently revised. The original (not included here) used repetition almost as a crutch. I wanted to avoid the repetition of words, but maintain the repetition of themes. Love is brutal. Love is beautiful. Love is a messy complicated wonder. Anyway, I hope you dig it here.
Glimpsing Eternity (revision of Love in Whispers)
In quiet, tender moments—love is found
moments of exhilaration, toothy smiles
whispered, giggly snorts, bursting
dammed silence into uproarious laughter
Were we to talk of the years, it would play
like the opening montage to a Meg Ryan film
our rain puddle fights, late night
diner excursions requiring us to exit
through the gift shop with our stolen coffee mugs
The problem with a romantic montage is
they end—fizzle out—lose something before
finding something else
there is love in repetition
watching the same shitty TV as we fall asleep
too tired to pay anymore attention
In arguments, dead horses—love is refined
renovated, brick by brick, housing a space where
it is okay to not be okay, to not not be okay, to “okay is not enough”
figuring our baggage once thought lost would not return
as we grew up,
our baggage had baggage making the airport lost and found envious
now arriving: unraveling traumas
recent departure: relational grievances
love is not for the cowardly, unable to endure
dangerous, unpleasant things even
the wicked and divine know that life
intertwined requires fortitude not easily broken
Even in the death of things, Death cannot fathom love
cannot steal it away—cannot claim it
for it is both ethereal and real all at once
a dream lingering
a shadow following
a glimpse of eternity
even after the credits roll
Nicholas Dertinger is a poet, illustrator, and writer from the Chicago suburbs. In 2020, he self-published his first book of illustrated poetry, Paper Fledglings. He and his wife, Joy host the creative arts and pop culture podcast Stoke the Wild. You can support their family and creative work on Patreon, where you can get exclusive access to writings, poems, and artwork typically not found anywhere else.