The Family Story

The inspiration to write a blog deservedly goes to my friend Sherry O’Keefe whose wonderful blog (Blog?) Too Much August, Not Enough Snow has, itself, held me in thrall for the past couple of years. Sherry is more than friend, she has been a mentor to me and ballast. Her writing, both on her blog and her poetry are comfortable companions that closely observe the world, realigning it in ways that can be both unsettling and strangely soothing at the same time. Mark Burnhope is another good friend who I have been honored to share the poetry journey with. His blog, Naming the Beasts, rather than comfort, confronts, often with humor. He, too, also more than friend, has served as mentor, collaborator and a good kick in the pants. It is to him that I owe my latest publication in Wordgathering, which was part of a “curation loop essay,” written by him, including poems he solicited. I was honored to be included among other, much more noteworthy poets. I owe him a huge debt.

When I am asked to express my goals, I find myself squirming. Recently, on a visit “home,” to Minnesota to see my father who has ALS (more on that later and him), my sister informed me that he wanted me to write “the family story.” Typical that he would tell one family member what he wanted another family member to do and typical that I would not then confirm this with him, but leave it hanging like all the other baggage in our family. We have very large closets. It is also important to know that he has been in the mysterious process of working on the family genealogy for over twenty years and none of us are entirely clear where it has gone or where it is going nor what his view of a family story is. What I know in reference to my father: a yes or no question requires several reference books including the 1957 Encyclopedia Britannica to answer. Any answer to any question will, at some point, include a mathematical equation. When someone burns evidence even the issue of the begats starts to get hazy.

What this means if I write the family story is that getting what you pay for doesn’t mean, necessarily, that you get more or less, just different than if you did it yourself and if you don’t pay at all, well, it’s my family story, isn’t it. But the minute I started to write, it always was.

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2 thoughts on “The Family Story

  1. oh laurie, a lovely start! i relate to so much. with my father, a mechanical pencil and the margins of today’s newspaper also become involved. and thank you for such kind words about my blog. it means a lot to me to hear my alignments unsettle and soothe at the same time- that is pretty much what happens to me when i feel the world around me. 🙂 it’s like what you said at the end “the minute i started to write, it always was.” love statements like that and yet if we work to apply logic to it and a few sidenotes sketched into the margins of today’s news- hmmmm, it’s not so easy to figure out (unsettle) and yet, it makes me also feel understood (soothe).

    sherry

  2. Laurie Clemens says:

    Thank you for your thoughts on this, Sherry. It is always reassuring to know you “get” where I’m going.

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