I trust the hours and the blank page in a way that I never did as a young person. I know that if I approach the page in quiet mind, something will happen. Day by day, line by line, the manuscripts build themselves. I lean back and transcribe. And I revise. I read my work as if someone else had written it.
I've written and published 14 books, with a book of translations now almost done. The book in hand is Peret's "The Big Game" (Le grand jeu). I have to write an introduction, and I've been meditating on the process.
Yes, I still get nervous before shaping a major project, but I trust my own mind in a way that I never did as a girl. How could I? Everything in our culture, in my house, taught me to think that girls and women could not think or accomplish much.
I had to learn over and over again that I could write my way into song, into insight, into constant discovery with language. Of course I write some clunkers. But they make way for the next poem and the next, and eventually something pleasing takes place.
My role models were not kids: May Sarton, Tillie Olsen, Adrienne Rich, Denise Levertov, Audre Lorde, Anais Nin. They opened the doors and I think of them and thank them every day. I have a drawer full of letters from May Sarton, and few from Anais Nin. She was in her early seventies and had cancer when she wrote to me to encourage me in my poetry. And now it's my turn to encourage the next generation, and the next.
My confident daughter Heather just got a new job as an arts editor in Columbus, Ohio. She rocks, in her writing and in her music. May Sarton was her godmother. Some day I'll tell you that story!
Causes Marilyn Kallet Supports
Southern Poverty Law Center, US Holocaust Memorial Museum, ACLU, Amnesty International, Save Darfur.