Thursday, April 24, 2014

National Poetry Month: Guest Blogger Komal Patel Mathew

Thank you to my Sarah Lawrence College MFA friend, Komal, for today's post.

Komal Patel Mathew is co-founding editor of Josephine Quarterly and a Lecturer of English at Kennesaw State University. She received an M.F.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and a B.S. from Georgia Institute of Technology. Her work has appeared in The New Republic, The Southern Review, The Atlanta Review, and The Comstock Review. She has also been working on a full-length poetry collection, which has been a finalist for the National Poetry Series Open Competition and a semifinalist for the Alice James Books’ Beatrice Hawley Award.

A Forgiving Grace

When I started maternity leave, I had every intention of returning to my full-time college teaching career.  During the two months of prescribed bedrest, I bathed in thoughts of finishing the poetry manuscript I started in graduate school before the hurried life of teaching.  Instead, I developed pregnancy-induced carpel tunnel, and for the first time, writing pained me at a sensitive time of inspiration.

Now, one year after the birth of my boy/girl twins, I am back teaching English composition and literature and finding less time to write.  I am grading student research essays four days into spring break while my babies are in daycare, while someone else is holding their hands and watching them learn. Here, I am not the mother or writer I had hoped I would be.

And I’m not alone. Single friends, colleagues, strangers in the park, cousins, college friends, church friends—in all of my conversations, these women writers don’t know how they or others do it, how (in Toni Morrison’s words) they “mother [their] children and write books.” What they do know, though, is that we cannot do it all, that there are meaningful sacrifices of class discussion, playtime, or poems.  I am finding beauty in that—in living in uncertainty and schedules, in being dependent and dependable, in doing things differently than I imagined or wanted.  I hope these sacrifices will teach my children to love the mess and desire depth, to cry out for insight and understanding, to grieve disappointments and rejoice at a forgiving grace—a grace that will comfort me when I leave my teaching career this fall for their first words and, hopefully, my new ones.

No comments: