nov 1/RUN

4.3 miles
minnehaha falls and back
30 degrees / feels like 22

Yes, another wonderful run! I love breathing in this cold air. Everything that has been almost closed opens up. A lot of the snow has melted, but there were a few patches on the grass. The path was almost completely bare and dry, only one or two short stretches of ice. The falls were roaring. I passed a guy talking on his phone (he was in shorts, of course), showing whoever he was talking to the falls — these falls are so beautiful (at least I think that’s what he said).

I tried chanting in threes:

I am girl /I am ghost/ I am gorge
Girl Ghost Gorge/ Girl Ghost Gorge
Girl / Ghost / Gorge
Girl Girl Girl / Ghost Ghost Ghost / Gorge Gorge Gorge
Girl Ghost Gorge / Ghost Gorge Girl / Gorge Girl Ghost

I was hoping I find some way into words about my haunts poems. It started with one: obsession (which I thought about before my run too. See below). I was thinking about how I return to the gorge again and again, day after day, wanting to be there, wanting to find better words, wanting to establish (once and for all?) that this place is my home. I haunt this place, as ghost and girl.

10 Things

  1. honking geese (just before going out for my run)
  2. snow mixed with ice mixed with yellow leaves
  3. a strange noise — a big pipe clanging mournfully (not exactly sure what was happening, but the noise was caused by a city worker patching the path)
  4. the sharp smell of tar
  5. a woman and her dog walking on the double bridge
  6. a few patches of ice under the ford bridge
  7. running past the cold, silent meadow, almost hearing the buzz of bugs from earlier in the fall
  8. rushing, gushing, roaring falls
  9. crossing over the grassy trail (to avoid the work being done on the path), running over little piles of snow and leaves, my foot sinking into a hidden hole
  10. listening to a playlist for the second half of my run, running on the far edge of the road, being passed by a car hauling a trailer

I was just about to write that I forgot to look at the river, but I just remembered that I did and that I saw one spot that looked like it could almost be ice.

Stopped at my favorite falls spot and took a few seconds of video before turning on a playlist and starting to run again. Watching this video, it seems less white and wintery than it felt when I was there.

minnehaha falls / 1 nov 2023

before the run

I wrote this before my run. It made me feel hopeful that I’m getting closer to a way into a months long obsession.

It’s November and I’m feeling the itch to start (or return to) a big project. Me and my projects. I feel unsettled, lost, irritated, overwhelmed without them.

Not everyone likes the word project as the way to describe what a poet is doing when working on some thing (or, working on nothing, when nothing is not no thing but that empty, unknown space, the void). I guess the idea of a project bothers me a little too — too organized, structured, disciplined. Maybe I’ll start calling it my latest obsession? But an obsession with some direction; the goal = (temporarily) exhausting my feelings/thoughts/understandings/experiences with a certain thing. To write and write and write about a thing until I’m exhausted, emptied or satisfied, at least temporarily.

The difficulty right now is that I have too many obsessions: the periphery, the other side/lifting the veil, living in a land of almosts, girl/ghost/gorge, RUN! as an archive. Where should I land? Which one should I choose? Perhaps I should avoid settling on something so BIG and important, and search for a small, off to the side way in?

Ever since I encountered a chapbook by Dorothy Lasky, Poetry is Not a Project, I’ve been critical/uncertain about my own use of project as a way to describe what I’m doing. I think I first encountered it in year 2 (2018) and I don’t think I actually read it. I just remember feeling uneasy with its title. And that unease has stuck. I think I’ll read it now.

note: I did read it and loved it and then went out for my wonderful run. Now, 3 hours later, I’m back and ready to read it again and then write about it a little.

There’s a lot I could write about in this wonderful pamphlet and its 4 sections: Habitus; An Example; What is Really Not Intention, But Life; and How We Write, and What We Write For. So, I want to break it down over 4 log entries. Today: Habitus


I think poems come from the earth and work through the mind from the ground up. I think poems are living things that grow from the earth into the brain, rather than things that are planted within the earth by the brain. I think a poet intuits a poem and a scientist conducts a “project.”

Poetry is Not a Project

She is not satisfied with this distinction, feeling it’s not quite correct, then ends this page with the following hope:

But I do think there is a distinction. And the distinction, I think, is very important to how we come to think of poetry in the 21st century. Because I want this new century to be full of people who write poems, not full of poets who conduct projects and do nothing more.

Poetry is Not a Project

On the next page, she discusses why projects are useful for poets: they bring in money and respect.

A poet with a project has everything set out before he even gets started. A poet with a nameable project seems wise, and better than other poets with unnameable ones.

Poetry is Not a Project

She calls this out as BS. Then she discusses intuition and its importance for poetry, how the outside world of an artist blends and blurs with our internal drives. This blending and blurring can be difficult to name.

Love this bit:

Naming your intentions is great for some things, but not for poetry. Projects are bad for poetry. I might argue that a poet with a “project” that he can lucidly discuss is a pretty boring poet, at best.

Poetry is Not a Project

and this:

when a poet interacts with the field or domain of poetry, she is aware of the immense history she represents in her words enough to let herself be crushed by it.

Poetry is Not a Project

She then argues that poetic “projects” can be toxic to established and new poets, creating pressure by demanding the poets know exactly what they are doing and be able to articulate it to others. She closes this section with,

a poem, as a thing, resists being talked about linearly in its very nonlinearity. In its very nonlinear life. In the poem’s actual life, goddamn them.

Poetry is Not a Project

Here, I was planning to write some of my thoughts, but I’m struggling to describe why/how Lasky’s ideas resonate for me. I think I’ll write about the other 3 sections and then respond.

But, just one more thing: Lasky’s discussion of our inability to know or express what a poem is in the form of a project, reminds me of a definition of wild that I revisited this morning:

wild = capacity of all things to elude the mind’s appropriations