It's always after the fact that you realize you are depressed. It comes so naturally that you don't think to look at one of the signs: the growing white space in your poems. Before the psychic pain, you thought it was quite the opposite--you thought it meant you were happy. A lot of white space meant ambition.
You were excited about sending out your book of poetry. You believed that you found the way to a win a contest. Put as few words on the page as possible. This was your rationale: screeners are flooded with too many manuscripts. What is smarter than giving them as little as possible to make their way through. They won’t realize it. But they’ll thank you. They’ll thank you by passing your manuscript on to a final judge.
White space is a place for rest on the page. You wanted your readers to rest, or at least you thought. You didn't realize you were projecting.
The Sun and electric incandescence create white light. Maybe the growing amount of white space was a sign of resistance to depression. As your depression increased, so did your desire to fight back. Or at least you like to think that.
Through the white space, you were saying wake up. Wake up. The white space was the closest thing to sunlight you could let in.Too tired to get out of bedd and open the curtains, you laid in bed and lamely browsed through a book of poems, anything longer than a dozen lines felt too time-consuming. Like tying your shoes. Depression makes you feel like tying your shoes is something that needs to be completed in steps.
Has a doctor ever considered white space to be an antidote for Seasonal Affective Disorder?
You always look forward to seeing a psychologist. One of your favorite games is pathologizing yourself. You can't imagine too many poets not looking forward to it. It means, I'm special. There's a name for it. It's the same way with a poem. The problem is the novelty of finding a name for something indescribable only lasts so long. Within seconds, the words date themselves. Your poem rendered obsolete.
White space has no expiration date. It always looks fresh and alive and ready.
In Vietnamese culture, white is the color of mourning and death.
In page layout, white space is often referred to as negative space. Negative space, negative capability. Where does the willingness to be "uncertain"--the location in-between uncertainty and limitless potential occur? Where is the space on the page? Do the two negatives complement one another? Do the two negatives equal a positive? Or do they simply cancel out one another?
A new poem: The Last Confession of Sister Ruth
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