Saturday, April 4, 2009

Journal Entries

Note from Maryann: I visited Troy last week and he gave me a couple of journal entries to post. They’re a little outdated now, but we’re going to catch up. He’d like to start posting short reflections in a journal sort of style, coming out of his daily life.

Troy is doing very well and we had a very nice visit. On the way up to see him, I stopped in Ann Arbor, at the University of Michigan. The university has a prison creative arts program which last year solicited prisoner creative writing. Troy submitted three poems that made it into the first “On Words: Michigan Review of Prisoner Creative Writing.” I went to the university on March 26 because they were hosting an event featuring the editors and formerly incarcerated writers reading selections from the book. The guest editor, Joseph Bathanti, named Troy’s poem “The Knitting Birds” as first honorable mention. Two of Troy’s poems were read, “The Knitting Birds” and “The Prodigal.” (The third that was published, “Awakening,” was first published here.) There were about 1,000 entries and only 30+ writers made it into the book. As Bathanti said in naming his choices for winning entries and honorable mentions, when you get to the level of the writing published in the book, they are all winners, and that is so true, but I have to admit I was proud as a mama bear to be there and see the little extra attention Troy’s poetry got.

Here are the journal entries. More to come.

First day of spring — which I didn’t know until one of my cell mates mentioned it this morning. Of course, actual spring starts when it feels like starting so I pay more attention to that than to the official date. That hasn’t happened here yet in any real way. Still lots of snow on the ground but it’s slowly melting and some brown patches are starting to show up like old friends who’ve been away too long. The birds love these patches as much as I do. To them they’re like a buffet and they’re down there with their little heads bobbing happily, snatching up morsels of food.

I feel like I’ve been drifting for awhile, but I know that this feeling is partly due to cabin fever and wanting winter to end. Hopefully, as days get warmer I’ll experience a thawing of energy to match the outer thaw. I’m sure I will. I wish I would just remember the cyclical nature of these things — of all things, really — and not get so tense when I’m in the down cycle.

9:30 Sunday morning: I’m sitting here thinking I should do something useful, which I haven’t done for a few days. Had our ethics group meeting last night. The topic was our map of reality and how this affects our values. Good discussion. I’m advocating just being aware that we have a map of reality and that all kinds of things get written on it by all kinds of people. It’s good to ask ourselves regularly whether we want a certain piece of information on our map or not. To set up some kind of filter. Because if we don’t even know we have a map, or if we never think about it, there’s basically no filter. Everyone’s writing on our map of reality all the time and we end up with a confused bunch of mumbo-jumbo that doesn’t represent the world very well. The essence of “unconsciousness” is to not filter the content and process of our own mind and worldview.

I lived that way the first half of my life. It’s like getting in a car, putting it in gear, then closing your eyes and pushing the accelerator to the floor and hoping you don’t crash. We had a good talk about it in the class.

I guess I’m busy now erasing some errors off my map of reality, such as: I need to figure it all out or nothing else I do matters. Who wrote that on my map? Gimme the WhiteOut.

—Troy Chapman

1 comment:

Kitty Riley Kono said...

I loved the map of our lives and how everyone and every event is a posting. And I too loved that if you are aware of that map you can change the direction of your life. Makes me want to be so much more aware.

And also loved the brown patches and birds bobbing. Spring truly is a buffet.

Thanks Troy.