I know everyone has done this at one point or another. I have discovered there is a Viking Cheerleader with my name somewhere out there who is waving her pom-poms through the google of my poetry. That’s about it on the name matching though, everything else available when you google my name, “Cassie Mannes” is my own. My blog comes up, my shewrites page, very old poetry that I hope no one ever discovers (so I don’t know why I’m telling you), and today, I found a review of an online magazine I was featured in earlier this year, and then a review of my poems within its paragraphs. Why they chose my poems to review as part of it, I’m not sure, but they did, and so here I am in Barnes and Noble cafe, drinking a light caramel frap, because I’m trying to get rid of back fat, and I’m kind of bummed out.
The review from Sabotage was neither good nor bad. Obviously, the woman writing had seen far too many sexually religious poems (haven’t we all?) and she wasn’t a fan of “masturbating crickets.” I find that line just pisses people off, for reasons I don’t exactly know other than they think I was going for shock value. When really I was going for a humming sound, not with the words I chose, but within my mind. Anyway, I’m not trying to write a response to this review, or defend anything I wrote during that stage in my life, I’m actually trying to do the opposite.
When I wrote these poems, I thought Flood Season was one of the best poems I’d ever written. Margaret Atwood inspired, from her book Eating Fire, Laux gave me a stellar response with pencil marks digging into the lined page it was written on. I just felt enlightened after writing that. I don’t think, now, it was the actual writing I was really involved with, I think it was the story I was trying to tell. It was a Southern story, it was a story of pre-electricity and the calm before a major storm. It was my small response to the flooding in New Orleans, but making it my own. It was my Southern wife, hanging off her balcony, scarve floating on her neck, waiting like the statue in Savannah. There were a lot of things happening at the time I wrote this:
- I wanted to be known in my creative writing department for more than just fiction writing.
- I wanted recognition that my sex/Catholic/dead grandmother poems were doing something right.
- I wanted to write strong images that awoke people.
- I wanted to write about the trip to Savannah with CALK, standing in front of Flannery O’Conner’s childhood home.
- I wanted to allude to a Hurricane, or a flood, or a storm so bad it was left unnamed.
- I wanted to write about my families heritage.
- I wanted to write like Margaret Atwood, in the way she’s disturbing, functional, raw, imagistic, and disappointing. (Many people don’t know she’s also a poet, but she’s wonderful).
- I just wanted to write; what I’ve wanted to do my entire life.