The Mark Blog

The Defense by Harold Terezón

Baseball field

 

I arrived early to the Defense in order to avoid the much anticipated & over-hyped Carmageddon on the 405 which was to unleash a vehicular chaos of unprecedented proportions. This extra hour or so gave me the opportunity to walk to the park down the street, sit on the bleachers, look onto the lovely, empty baseball fields, & consider why I had put this collection together & applied to The Mark.

When I walked into the office on the fourth floor, I was confident, but unsure of what to expect. After having a few close friends, most of them writers & educators, read my manuscript beforehand & explaining to them the process & the choices I made on this collection, I felt a little nervous, but comfortable defending my work. Though, previously I never had to address a panel.

I greeted the panel, headed by Anna Journey & Gabrielle Calvocoressi. Once the defense began, it was all business from there. They immediately delved into the craft, process, & aesthetics of the collection. Although I was prepared, mostly, for the defense, some of their observations in response to my work were surprising. They also had questions my prepared responses were unable to answer.

Perhaps the most difficult part of the defense was discussing what was at stake with this collection: trauma, which is often left unsaid. It appears that I am proficient at building walls from layers of historical data, allusions, & at times, space & silence, in order to avoid talking about the pain & sadness. Examining, revising, and exposing what is underneath these layers may be the most difficult task in finishing this project.

There were other concerns that I know I must address in the coming months. For example, why did I include clusters of similar sounding poems, such as the sudden, quiet, short lined, short poems or pair the long, louder poems together? Or why all the bookmarks/short prose poems? I think the best suited suggestion, however, was to disperse trauma throughout the collection rather than focusing on one piece, giving the collection a more cohesive flow.

But as exciting as it sounds to spend time writing, revising, workshopping, & working with an amazing faculty & Mehnaz on a project that I’ve spent most of my life writing, there is a small worry with the program. I worry that in the process of all this work, my project is moved in a direction I may not feel comfortable accepting. Although I welcome challenging myself past my comfort zones, I want to maintain the cultural, historical, & ethnic sensitivities the project brings. Ultimately, the choices I make from here on out will contribute to this process, choices that must respect the project, the content, &, ultimately, myself as well.

It’s important for me to grow as a writer by challenging myself, diving into the unknown, taking risks, pushing the limits of what I hold sacred. It’s exciting to see where those risks take me or what they uncover. After sitting through the hour long Defense, one thing is certain for the next few months: it’ll be an intensive boundary-pushing writing program. & that is nothing short of exciting.

Overall, the Defense was informative, productive, & full of unexpected observations, some pleasant, some eye cringing. The Defense provided the space for me to speak about my work introspectively, & started me on thinking how to finish the project. Both Anna Journey & Gabrielle Calvocoressi offered great suggestions & exercises to address some of the writing obstacles in this collection, which I am most appreciative of & anxious to try.