30 Aug 2021
Word (KJZZ 91.5 FM), season 6, episode 7
“Seasons endings bring reflection and a look forward”
Hosted by Tom Maxedon
01 Jan 2022
“The couple quit uploading to YouTube two years ago. / Their videos are something pitiful and earnest now, / something long buried, sand-scratched, rubbed raw. / Thumbs down, I think. None of my business.”
A viewer returns to the YouTube videos of a couple who have long since broken up.
I once heard someone say sadness is not a bad emotion, that instead of trying to avoid it or suppress it, we should let ourselves experience it. I’m not paraphrasing what he said very well, but ever since, I’ve let myself experience sadness like I let myself experience happiness: fully.
There are many emotions to experience in the latest issue of Impossible Archetype, but from Mark Ward‘s “Editor’s Note” at the beginning of the issue through the violence that pervades poems near the end, there is, at least to me, a strong sense of sadness and grief. I contributed my own poem about sadness to the issue, “I Can’t Explain Love or Loss if the Only Language I Have is Geology or What I Watch on YouTube.” It was sparked by my unexpected sadness over finding out that a couple I used to watch on YouTube has long since broken up.
In Issue 10, it’s not (only) contemporary events that spark most of the sadness (that was issue 8, in my opinion, in which poets were reckoning with COVID-19 and stay-at-home isolation, topics mostly left behind by later issues.) The sadness comes from individual, personal experiences, LGBTQ+ experiences, sure, but universal experiences, including in love and breakup, coming out, dealing with parents and aging parents, with pets and nature, with existential crises, with writing and music and other art, with time and how it is fleeting.
I’m not trying to scare people away from reading the latest issues of Impossible Archetype. I’m comforted by the poems inside. Sadness is universal and human, and I am, we are, not alone in experiencing it.
Interview & Reading
I was invited back for the season finale of KJZZ Phoenix’s “Word” podcast, hosted by Tom Maxedon. The episode is available today. It was a pleasure to be able to talk to Tom about many topics, including Mars and HiRISE, the Tucson Poetry Festival and our upcoming January fundraising workshops (more information and registration soon), The Writers Studio and The Writers Studio Tucson, and how my writing has been going during the pandemic. I also read “I Can’t Explain Love or Loss if the Only Language I Have is Geology or What I Watch on YouTube” from Impossible Archetype, Issue 10, published in August.
The other two guests have fascinating and heartbreaking stories to tell. Brad Mayhew discusses his career as a hotshot and later investigator of the devastating fire that claimed the life of 19 firefighters in 2013. He’s working on a memoir.
Susan Vespoli is a poet with a new poetry collection coming soon about dealing with two of her children’s opioid addictions. The poem she reads, “Chicken,” is a beautifully written gut punch.