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The final collection by award-winning poet Reetika Vazirani, published by Drunken Boat.

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Annotations of contemporary poetry edited by Lisa Russ Spaar, published by Drunken Boat.


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What is your writing routine? Today’s “cooler” authors like to espouse a lack of routine. It just comes to them, they say. When they hear about the routines of other writers, they don’t buy it. PR nonsense, they say.

I’m inclined to agree because I don’t have much of a routine, either. Or, at least, it may seem like I don’t have a routine because I’m too close to the situation. Perhaps if a friend, or otherwise an outsider, observed me for a day, they would pick up on quirks and habits that I cannot separate from breathing or picking my nose.

Naomi Maruta’s Night Hawk photo montage captures the essence of the latest evolution in my writing routine. My writing routine may as well be tied to my overall character: after job hunting since January, I am still unemployed. Worse yet, my creative writing is stalled. As a writer, I am also a whole person. My personality is frozen, held hostage by lack of opportunity, a dearth of encouragement, and hope: how hope had once shined so bright, like a supernova, to then violently dissolve.

I feel abandoned.

This is not to say that I am courting your pity. We are all allowed our moments. Go ahead and cry. Be hurt. Let yourself feel the hurt.

Then come back for a full assault.

At first, Night Hawk familiarly rings of footage from a security or traffic camera — both of which I have a strange fascination for watching. As writers, we allegedly have keen eyes, so maybe we’d make good security guards. We could keep an eye out for anomalies, but have enough patience to watch footage that sometimes has long stretches of nothingness. During those lags, our minds would wander and we could create stories based on the unassuming images.

The title Night Hawk is a promise, and the images consistently deliver on that promise. We are treated to a world that exists after the commuter trains have stopped running, when the rush hour has died down, and the day has ended for many people. The montage consists of images you might indeed expect from surveillance: cityscapes and their empty sidewalks, a deserted street, a rooftop. Sometimes there are people of the night: a casino employee, for example, and slot machine players. Maybe they’ve been sitting there all day.

Here is my favorite Night Hawk image: a night market called, simply, ‘GET’. There are four people at the market. It must be so busy during the day, but at night, there’s just those four. How did I, myself, become a night hawk anyway? The simple answer is unemployment. The complex answer is capitalism, consumerism, backroom deals and dreams deferred.

A market called ‘GET’.

My new routine as a writer and as a person is nocturnal. I stay up later, sometimes until midnight, and I don’t usually wake up until eight. “That’s what happens when you’re unemployed,” my roommate said, gently, without malice. But it still stung. It stung like the days of unrequited cover letters to jobs and query letters to agents and editors. How do I cure the sting? How do I assault the hurt? By staying up late into the hours when the rest of the world is dormant, powerless. At night, I have power. When dawn arrives and the rest of the world begins again, I have already ended. Someday, I would like to rejoin you. I would like to realign myself with the world, because the nocturnal routine is, quite frankly, lonely. When I have a job, and when I can again take pride in my writing, I’ll let you know. I’ll let you know when things are back to okay. For now, you can start without me.

Set to music, with an accompanying video, Night Hawk might be a good fit with this song:

Night Hawk is part of DB’s third issue in Fall/Winter 2001-2002 — almost ten years ago. But what a wonderful expression of contraction. My, my. The more things change…

By Joe Ramelo, Social Media Assistant.

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Published Mar 30, 2010 - Comments Off on Start without me

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