I’ve always loved the title of that small Shambala Pocket Classic,
written 30 years ago. My dog-eared copy shows those years!
The sub-title, “Freeing the Writer Within” is what hooked me in the
beginning, and since then has proven its worth.
Consider this on page 87:
“I say all writers, no matter how fat, thin, or flabby have good figures.
The are always working out. Remember this. They are in tune, toned up,
in rhythm with the hills, the highway and can go for long stretches and
many miles of paper. They move with grace in and out of many worlds.” ~ Natalie Goldberg
Yes! tomorrow I may have a poem but this is my ode to urge you to
pick up a pencil or pen and just write your heart out. No erasures,
no crossed out lines, just go for it, and leave it to continue another day.
Weeks after my birthday gift in December, I used my gift card
of $50 to Whole Foods to have this amazing experience of
abundance when the other day I bought a whole pound of fresh
shrimp, cool & cooked, with a balance on that gift card left over
for another foray into food extravaganza.
“Look, I want to love this world
as though it’s the last chance I’m ever going to get
to be alive
and know it.”
That quote is from a Mary Oliver poem that has nothing to do
with cooked shrimp, but has every thing to do with Joy. When
I knew I could share this odd joy of the cooked shrimp with you,
I went looking for a poem to match the sense of aliveness that
having all you ever wanted of one thing was right there.
It takes only one moment of being in the right place at the
right time to know it’s possible, at no great cost, to find joy
in the smallest moment.
You’ll recognize it when it happens to you. The memory of
this got me up at 3:30 this morning to remind you.
always with love,
……….Quote from the poem, October, in the Mary Oliver book of
poems, New & Selected Poems, Vol. 1, 1992.
At 4am I awoke, looked out my window, and
across the parking lot I saw 3 large deer silently
walking east at the far edge. I went back to bed
but could not sleep, so got up again,
looking for today’s inspiration, and found it:
“THE OPENING OF EYES
That day I saw beneath dark clouds,
the passing light over the water
and I heard the voice of the world speak out,
I knew then, as I had before,
life is no passing memory of what has been
nor the remaining pages in a great book
waiting to be read.
It is the opening of eyes long closed.
It is the vision of far off things
seen for the silence they hold.
It is the heart after years
of secret conversing,
speaking out loud in the clear air.
It is Moses in the desert
fallen to his knees before the lit bush.
It is the man throwing away his shoes
as if to enter heaven
and finding himself astonished,
opened at last,
fallen in love with solid ground.”
……….DAVID WHYTE, from his book of poetry
called River Flow, 1984-2007, page 31.
The power of creative expression through art
of any kind to pierce through to the heart’s place,
we are so blessed.
In the March 2014 issue of Poetry Magazine, there are seven pages on a conversation with PBS News Hour correspondent Jeffrey Brown.
I can only jump from a line there, to see the flavor of news reporting poetry. Crazy thought reporting news of Poetry! Starting here with what Brown says:
“I spend most days working with my colleagues to produce news stories, and at the appointed hour I speak into the camera, telling what happened. What is the most important, most interesting, most compelling – wars, elections, natural disasters, news you expect to see and hear.
But there is more to tell.
In Haiti there is a small community center, a sort of library, where every Saturday for the past 10 years or so, the “crazy artists” come to meet one another, read their works and hold classes in writing or painting. On (any) day there is much reciting, singing, shouting lines back and forth in Creole and French, with references to the quake, cholera, hunger, death, but also to pleasure, fellowship, drinking and love, love, love.
I was there as a reporter. What’s it mean, to report? Give an account for the day, a tricky thing to be there but not of there. So, we accumulate facts and observations and give that account. In Haiti, that day, men and women gathered together to tell their histories, their lives, their hopes and joys, angers and sorrows. Poetry happened.
There are many other stories and places. I recently witnessed children in a blighted Detroit neighborhood talk of W.S. Merwin’s line on “words hiding inside this pencil” and then pick up their pencils to write.
Indeed, along the way, in this country and abroad, I met many of our finest, most insightful poets and writers. I asked questions about language, words, and lives that we all share. I learned over and over that the news comes from many directions, in many forms, that there are many ways – including a work of art, a piece of music, lines of poetry – to describe what happened.
Each of us must come to terms with what we see and what we will say. On that trip to Haiti in 2011, the nation’s best known poet, Frankétienne, surveying what he called a “dying country”, told me “words cannot save the world. And yet an account must be given.”
Frankétienne and the “crazy”poets (of that small gathering in Haiti) continue to observe and write the news of the world. A journalist continues to report the news of the day.” ……………………………………
I have gotten out of the habit of awaking and reaching
for a poem. Lately, I have chosen to simply go back
to sleep. Tonight, or rather this very early morning,
I got up and reached for a poem:
LESTER TELLS OF WANDA & THE BIG SNOW
“Some years back I worked a strip mine
Out near Tylesburg. One day it starts
To snow and by two we got three feet.
I says to the foreman, “I’m going home.”
He says, “Ain’t you stayin’ til five?”
I says, “I got to see to my cows,”
Not telling how Wanda was there at the house.
By the time I make it home at four
Another foot is down and it don’t quit
Until it lays another. Wanda and me
For three whole days seen no one else.
We tunneled the drifts and slid
Right over the barbed wire, laughing
At how our heartbeats melted the snow.
After a time the food was gone and I thought
I’d butcher a cow, but then it cleared
And the moon come up as sweet as an apple.
Next morning the ploughs got through. It made us sad.
It don’t snow like that no more. Too bad.”
……PAUL ZIMMER,(1934, Canton,OH) ran university presses
at Pittsburgh, Georgia,and Iowa, then retired to his farm
near Soldiers Grove, WI. Author of many collections, he is
known to have said, “Some people view life as food served
by a psychopath. They do not trust it.” But Zimmer expects
always to be happy. Puzzled by melancholy, he pours a
reward and loves the world relentlessly.
Although I am alone here, I laugh out loud at that remark
noted in Garrison Keillor’s book, Good Poems.(2002)