Lena Corazon: Learning to Love the Space Between

Being Between: a series about moving from our current day jobs and life situations toward our true vocations and life goals.

In this third installment of the Being Between series, Northern Californian poet, novelist and sociology doctoral candidate Lena Corazon talks about her multiple lives and shares one of her poems.

Even though I’ve been writing poetry, short stories, and novels since I was a little girl, I always considered it to be little more than a hobby, something I did for fun. The route of academia seemed far more practical, and so I decided that I would study for a PhD and become a college professor.

I was lucky enough to get my wish. I entered a PhD program in sociology straight out of college, and quickly learned that grad school, like academia itself, is one big juggling act. For the last four years I’ve been student, teaching assistant, and scholar. I slog my way through 300+ pages of reading each week, grade what feels like mountains of assignments, and look for spare time to cram in my dissertation research.

It’s little surprise that during my first couple of years as a grad student, I didn’t pick up a single novel or write one word of fiction. Why? I had a skewed fantasy in my head about what it meant to be a “serious” scholar. Serious scholars, as far as I was concerned, did not prance about in make-believe worlds. Serious scholars didn’t waste time having conversations with imaginary people. Serious scholars did Very Serious Things, like immerse themselves in social theory and write books filled with academic jargon.  Continue reading

A thousand birds

A thousand birds—they flew out of

your mouth at your dying,

                                       as you said

                                       they would

& bewildered me: 

                       They bewilder me still.

Poet Hilda Morley wrote that. It’s from her poem, “A Thousand Birds.”

When she gave a reading back in the 90’s for the journal I co-edited, Passager, at the University of Baltimore, she said the poem was about her husband, composer Stepan Wolpe, and the music that remained unwritten at his death.

She told us how they once lived in a tiny Italian town, where Stepan had no piano. He had to walk down the stony road to the local movie theatre to use the piano there.

I have her book, CLOUDLESS AT FIRST, in front of me now. After the reading I tried to buy one of her books but she had sold them all, so she sold me this one, the one she read from.

The book falls open at certain poems: “Animula Vagula,” “Out of Nothing,” the middle of the long “A Thread of Scarlet” and “For Margharita Rospigliosi.”  “Weight & Lightness” is marked with a rectangle of lined notebook paper.

In the front of the book, she wrote:

Warm greetings from Hilda Morley

I was thinking about Hilda tonight. Don’t know why. Often I’ve found myself remembering her words

a thousand birds

as she spoke them at the podium. So I looked her up on Wikipedia and found she died 13 years ago.

I hear her voice.

By S.J. Driscoll