“I’m frozen again-- / too overloaded from my life / to process the files of stress / and the anxiety applications / clogging my memory,” Casanova Green writes in the opening lines of the poem “Hard Reset” from his debut collection Things I Wish I Could Tell You.
Haven’t we all felt like this? Lengthy to-do lists get layered on top of daily conflicts with coworkers and family members, which lie unevenly across ongoing frustrations (health, finance, world events). And beneath it all, there’s the structural damage caused by a foundation of unprocessed trauma, ongoing grief, and anger.
It gets to be too much to handle. Our minds get clogged. Our emotions get triggered, often unhealthily so. At least until we are willing to be honest with ourselves, to sort through the sources of mental meltdown to find the place where it all started.
“I have no choice but to submit-- / go back to square one, factory reset,” the poem’s final lines read. “Back to the old foundations / a second change to be right again.”This process of confronting old wounds and processing where we come from is at the heart of Things I Wish I Could Tell You.
Several years ago, before Inkling Creative Strategies was, well, an inkling, I had the opportunity to edit a version of this project. Seeing these courageous, lyrical poems in final, published form has been encouraging and thrilling, a true representation of my mission to see writers create work that impacts and inspires readers. It’s always inspiring, and dare I say gratifying, when a friend whose work you have seen evolve and explode makes the grand achievement of sharing it with the world.
Green has had an accomplished and diverse career of working with language. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in language arts education, a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing, and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in rhetoric and composition. Currently, he serves as the Journalism Program Manager at Hocking College, overseeing the university’s English courses and upcoming journalism major.
But it doesn’t stop with literature and academia. Green is also the lead pastor of True Vision Christian Church in Lancaster, Ohio. Writing isn’t his only art form, as he is additionally a musician, having released albums of his original worship songs recorded both live and in the studio. He is a dynamic, passionate creator with infectious energy, as well as a husband and father of two young children.
“All of these roles are an extension of who I am as a person and my writing tends to come from my experiences,” he said. “So each ‘hat’ and how they interact with the world and each other have a voice in my writing. They work as lenses for me to see the world. It’s really cool to be able to step into so many different perspectives and find those connections.”
Things I Wish I Could Tell You embodies these themes of faith, art, family, and worship, giving a panoramic and confessional view of his life experiences that are as universal to readers as they are personal to the author.
There are stories of navigating the writing life as the father of a toddler, coping with the loss of a parent, and poignant memories of sitting on the porch with a beloved grandmother who teaches resonant life lessons about love and respect. Many poems are also laced with the entangled emotions of unresolved trauma, inviting readers to participate in the process of healing even as the author works through this tension himself.
Yet, readers also see Green taking the wisdom that comes from faith in suffering and speaking it back to his communities, from exhortations for churches to escape the complacency and divisions of evangelicalism to a compassionate portrayal of struggling students in an inner-city high school.
Things I Could Tell You creates a beautiful relationship of intimacy between Green and his readers. Its vulnerable, honest voice not only comes from the author’s desire to reflect on and process his past, but a desire to share the instructiveness of his experiences with others.
Green’s poetry is also obviously informed by his love of music. He began writing poems at age fourteen, which later led to the creation of song lyrics. The book itself has a symphonic quality to it, divided into three “movements” that address distinct themes, creating a unified portrayal of the author’s life.
“If you look at the themes, each section represents a part of who I am,” Green explained. “When it came time to do the book, I maintained the same structure to represent the parts that make me who I am: husband and father, a man who loves God, and a person who is human and still learning and growing.”
Things I Wish I Could Tell You has gone through a lot of transformation through the editing and publication process to become what it is. Originally Green’s master’s thesis for his MFA, the full manuscript is made up of six sections, which was edited down to three to achieve a chapbook length. Green says that he easily has enough material left to publish a second book.
There’s an important lesson here for writers: while you might be tempted to rigidly maintain the structure of a project you think is done, be open to reworking it or even considering a different way to share the material.
Green also says that the writing process opened him up to not just the cathartic and releasing experience of responding to past trauma and hurt through writing, but the painful, yet necessary work of dealing with things he did not want to address. Poetry provided a healing experience for doing so, something that its compactness and space for emotional honesty can do for other authors who are survivors.
As all writers know, though, the final product doesn’t happen without a process. Green says his poems come from attentiveness to his own creativity, a lesson that many poets should find inspiring and valuable.
“I could say that I write every day and have a specific spot with a special pen but you know I would be lying,” Green said. “Shout out to those of you who have a set method. I wish I had your level of discipline.
“My process is one of spontaneous generation. I will literally be minding my business and a line comes. Something major would happen or would hear a line and I would have to grab my phone and get what I can. In my prayer time, something will come. Once I get it, I will go back and clean it up. There have been a few times where I have knocked out several poems based on one idea.”
Once authors have work they are happy with, Green adds that it is vital for writers to take the risk of sharing it by submitting to publications, discovering the audience that is waiting for their work. He recommends Submittable as a tool for sending work out and offers a word of caution for posting work online—many publishers will consider this the first run of a work, even if it is posted in a private group.
In the end, Green says that poetry is about being willing to step out and speaking your message to an audience with courage.
“Poetry is not just about roses and violets. It is about you pouring out what is in your heart and mind. There are people out there who need what you have to say. Poetry is making a comeback so this is the time for you to write. Write your story. What do you have to lose?”
Things I Wish I Could Tell You is available for purchase from the Southern Collective Experience Press, as well as from Casanova Green’s website, CGCreate.online, where you can learn more about his writing, music, ministry, and more. His albums are also available to purchase and stream on all digital platforms.
What about you? Are you ready to discover the untapped poems waiting to be written?
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