Here’s a little teaser from Fools Love: 40 Week Journal. A few days ago, Kerry sent me an email with the title 40 week journal corrections. There was a PDF attached.
Now, I can take feedback like a champ, but corrections? Now? The film is set to screen this weekend, and I certainly don’t have time to be making changes, and WHAT THE HELL DO YOU MEAN, CORRECTIONS? There are no MISTAKES in this poem! This is not a test!
So, yeah, my hackles went up.
Kerry, an expert in dealing with sensitive artist types, had anticipated my stiff-backed response. “I don’t want you to change your poem-” the first line of the email, “but some of the details aren’t true to life.”
I bemoaned the vagaries of long-distance collaboration. Readied my speech on poetic license and on how fictionalization can add a comfortable buffer zone between an artist and her piece. Especially when it’s emotionally charged. I had a feeling she knew this. I recalled times when I was about to read a new poem or story and suffered an eleventh-hour panic attack, believing that everything needed to be different-Iambic hexameter enforced, names changed to protect the guilty.
Then just read the rest of the damn email.
“I just want my daughter to understand exactly what happened, one day when she’s old enough. I want a copy of your poem with all the facts straight.” I opened the PDF. What I found was a running commentary, and the inclusion of a few dates. There were no big red X marks, no F- at the top. I hadn’t failed. Kerry didn’t want to change the poem, but this was her poem, her story, facilitated by me. She needed to put her mark on it. The last word- for the record. I could appreciate that.