About half a year ago, I suffered from a serious and seriously unexpected health issue, a kind of stroke related to one of my carotid arteries bleeding to the point of having aneurysms. Although I do not have the medical terminology in front of me as I write this, I do know that one word used to describe the kind of stroke I experienced was Dissection, which is odd in that it reminds me of dissecting frogs and fetal pigs and other dead animals in high school science class.
I’m not a dead animal and my brain is better than that of a fetal pig. However, I still have not fully recovered from the results of my stroke and its resultant aphasia. I lost a significant amount of my brain power related to words and remembering and memorizing and old memorized math and more. My loss of wordiness was and still is the most challenging part for me to deal with, because for many years, creative writing has been very important and special and meaningful to me. Within the past five years or so, my many years of working hard at poetry had finally taken affect into making me a pretty successful and well-published poet. Unfortunately, after my stroke, my unique and unusual power of words was no longer floating into and out of my head as strongly and creatively as it had been for those years.
I do still adore poetry. I still attempt to read poetry and still enjoy it, even if my reading is considerably slower than it used to be. I’ve participated in two live and wondrous poetry readings since my stroke; the first one required lots & lots of advance preparation as far as practicing reading my poems; the second one still required some advance preparation, but not such a massive amount. I’ve created two new poetry chapbooks for my small press, Blood Pudding Press-and granted, all but one of the poems within those chapbooks were written before my stroke, but the preparation and design were new. I’ve also returned to reading and publishing new poems to be posted on my online poetry sight, Thirteen Myna Birds. I have even written a handful or two of my own new poems since my stroke. They are considerably shorter than the kind of poems I used to write, but short does not necessarily mean terribly weak, right?
As you can hear, I am still very interested in and spending time and attention on poetics, even if my time and attention does move more slowly than before. Most recently, I set towards some serious hard work on preparing my second full-length poetry book to start submitting to various sources and have indeed submitted it to one source so far. Yippee for making poetic progress or at least trying to.
For days upon days and hours upon hours, I worked hard at assembling my new manuscript, from choosing which of my poems to include, creating different section titles, deciding which pieces fit into each section and how to order those pieces, and more. This kind of process can be pretty time consuming for everyone, but part of what made the process even more time consuming for me than in my past was the fact that it takes me a considerably longer time to even read my own poems. Then again, since earlier after my stroke, I could barely read at all, I should really do my best to deal with my recent slow but reasonably accurate reading. I am happy I am trying. Whether or not my collection is accepted by the first source I sent it too, it now exists! I can add poems, remove them, update other details and more, bit by darkly delicious bit now without having to spend quite as many hours upon hours.
On a not so happy note, I will admit that having spent hours upon hours reading over lots of my own poems, many of them written in 2008 and 2009, I could not help myself from thinking about how after many years of working hard on my poetry writing process, it was just a few years back, when I finally started truly liking, enjoying, and being impressed with and proud of much of my own work. However, having suffered from my stroke early in 2010, losing part of my brain power, and still in the midst of aphasia, I now cannot write (or otherwise uniquely express myself) anywhere near as tremendously as I used to and sometimes I really feel as if that is awfully unfortunate. Yes, I am happy and lucky to be alive, but I still miss some parts of my old brain! I guess I need to try even harder to focus on the fact that I’m lucky to be alive. I should also do my best to continue to recover, but I will admit I’m not too sure how to do my best in that regard. I can no longer afford a speech therapist (nor a therapist to help me deal with sometimes feeling quite depressed and upset and hurt and sad and so forth). Frankly, the last six months of my life have been strangely unsettling in a variety of ways.
Back to poetry though, it is still important and wonderful to me. I’m glad that I still love it. I’m also glad that my personality has not substantially changed, even if I cannot always express my thoughts and feelings in such a specific, unique, and creative way as I used to. I’d like to think that continuing to work on trying to read poetry, write poetry, and think about poeticism has helped to improve my recovery and will continue to do so, pretty please with dark sugar on top and decadent poison darts.
In even more poetry news, both future and present, my first full-length poetry book, ‘HORRIFIC CONFECTION’, was published in 2008 by BlazeVOX. My print copies recently sold out, but this collection can still be partaken online for free, right here: http://www.blazevox.org/ebk-jCook%20REAL.pdf.
It was pretty easy for me to come up with that book’s title, since I had been working on some of those poems for many years and then had been submitting that collection to various sources for many more years. This time though, with my second full-length collection, coming up with the best title did not come easily to me and I’m still not sure!
I tentatively entitled it ‘Errant Confetti’, but here are a few other odd titles I thought about/am thinking about which might be even more strangely interesting, especially those which include the word Dissection (which is related to my stroke; see above). Feel free to let me know what you think.
-Deadly Doll Head Dissection
-Toxic Taste Test My Vile Love
Of course, I suppose you might be able to think about that better if you knew what kind of oddly hideous poems where included within. If you think you might be interested in my poetry, please feel free to check some of it by visiting one or more of the sources below.
-My online poetry-oriented website – ‘HORRIFIC CONFECTION – The Poetic Pursuit of Juliet Cook’ : http://julietcook.weebly.com/
-My personal poetic blog called ‘DOPPELGANGRENE’: http://doppelgangrene.blogspot.com/
-The Blood Pudding Press blog: http://bloodyooze.blogspot.com/
-The Blood Pudding Press etsy shop, which offers unique hand-designed poetry chapbooks and poetic supplies & other artsy ephemera: http://www.etsy.com/shop/BloodPuddingPress
Indeed, at this point in my life, while my brain is still trying to recover but not quite there yet, I know longer have a job or the skills to make a regular amount of money like I used to for many years. I am back to temporarily living with my parents, even though I’m not a kid or even a super young adult. If anyone would like to help me out a little bit and partake of your own creative goods, it would be utterly wonderful if you purchased a special something from the Blood Pudding Press etsy shop at http://bloodyooze.blogspot.com/. In addition to thirteen hand-designed poetry chapbooks, I have more recently been spending some time browsing for some interesting little art supplies and artsy ephemera to add to the shop, ranging from lace to vintage skeleton keys to vintage dish towels to post cards to holy cards and more. Check it out for yourself using the link above.
I am also volunteering at my sister’s paint your own pottery shop, working on therapy as best I can, and trying to spend some time reading and writing, among other things. Even though reading and writing is still very important and meaningful to me, it is also way slower than it used to be, as I mentioned several times before. It now tends to take me a very long time (as in several months) to finish reading a magazine, a lit. mag., or a book. Thus, I have many, many, many words on progress. I really hope my words in progress and works in progress will become more attuned to their previous power and strength eventually. Until then, I need to try my temporary up & down best.
The second half of this article was updated from my own personal poetic blog called ‘DOPPELGANGRENE’ – see and/or click on its link above.
Read more about my stroke in the very first article I wrote about it, this past March, called “Post-Stroke Survival and Sad Little Blues” here – http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/2807396/poststroke_survival_and_sad_little.html?cat=7
Read more about Blood Pudding Press here – http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/2346286/columbusbased_poetry_publisher_blood.html?cat=2
Read more about my sister’s Paint Your Own Pottery Shop here – http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1426072/paint_a_piece_of_pottery_for_your_valentine.html?cat=30