IMG_1607I’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.

always with love,


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.”                                                                                               ……………………………………

Something to think about.

always with love,


Reporting poetry – all her life…..
Young Antoinette sailing to Italy





I have picked up one golf memoir, two books of poetry,
and now this well-worn book of meditations called
B E I N G H O M E.
It’s 5 o’clock in the morning, and I want to finish my sleep.

I know that if I can find the best, best words to share with
you, I will fall back into bed and into deepest slumber.

So, here they are, those words:

“This morning as I put my feet on the floor
let me remember how many thousands of years
it took for this act to be possible —
the slow and painstaking development
so that a human creature could rise,
could stand on two feet, and then walk.

From the very beginning, from the first explosion
Your precise and patient love has been creating us.

The wonder is that now my hands are free
even as I walk or run or stand or dance.
The wonder is that now while I am upright,
my eyes can gaze at the ground,
along the ground
and beyond to the horizon.”

…………..GUNILLA NORRIS, 1991, Being Home.

I am lost in that wonder. Let me never take it for granted.

with love …


That phrase, ‘She’s yar’ is an echo from when I was growing up,
and had a remarkable step-father who loved the old stories of
New England’s sailing ships, from clippers to dories, and those
words meant the vessel had fine, clean lines.

This morning, I looked up the word ‘yar’ in Webster’s dictionary,
and it’s not there. Curious. Did I make this up? Memory has a
way of recall that might be creative!

Along those lines, I have a poem for you:


We shape our self
to fit this world

and by the world
are shaped again.

The visible
and the invisible

working together
in common cause,

to produce
the miraculous.

I am thinking of the way
the intangible air

traveled at speed
round a shaped wing

holds our weight.

So may we, in this life

to those elements
we have yet to see

or imagine,
and look for the true

shape of our own self,
by forming it well

to the great
intangibles about us.”

……… DAVID WHYTE, written for the presentation
of the Collier Trophy to the Boeing Company marking
the introduction of the new 737 passenger jet.

‘Yar’, for sure.

always with love,


Storytelling has become an amiable feature along the coast
lately. Verbally sharing stories of our lives at gatherings where
people actually listen is progress since each of us is a story
walking around on two feet.

To sit down at a table or at a computer and put these stories
together as a book takes another kind of courage and I am
pleased to be encountering a number of people making this

This morning, I leafed through a poetry book, looking for an
appealing thought, found it, and so here it is for all who are
about to publish:

” E N V O Y

Go, little book,

out of this house and into the world,

carriage made of paper rolling toward town

bearing a single passenger

beyond the reach of this jittery pen,

far from the desk and the nosy gooseneck lamp.

It is time to decamp,
put on a jacket and venture outside,
time to be regarded by other eyes,
bound to be held in foreign hands.

So off you go, infants of the brain,

with a wave and some bits of fatherly advice:

stay out as late as you like,

don’t bother to call or write,

and talk to as many strangers as you can.”

………..BILLY COLLINS, the final poem from
his book, Ballistics (2008)

Dear writers all, my thanks from my heart for your sharing.

with love,


IN 1955 Anne Morrow Lindbergh (yes, that one, the wife of
‘Lucky Lindy) took a vacation, more like a retreat, to a warm
shore and wrote a thoughtful book which recently was re-
printed. Here is a portion that spoke to me:

“I turn the shell in my hand, gazing into the wide open door

from which the occupant made his exit. Had it become an

encumbrance? Why did he run away? Did he hope to find

a better home, a better mode of living? I too have run away,

I realize. I too have shed the shell of my life, for these few

weeks of vacation.

But his shell — it is simple, it is bare, it is beautiful.

Small, only the size of my thumb, its architecture is perfect,

down to the finest detail. Its shape, swelling like a pear in

the center, winds in a gentle spiral to the pointed apex.

Its color, dull gold, is whitened by a wash of salt from the

sea. Each whorl, each faint knob, each criss-cross vein in

its egg-shell texture, is as clearly defined as on the day of

creation. My eye follows with delight the outer circum-

ference of that diminutive winding staircase up which this

tenant used to travel.

My shell is like this, I think. How untidy it has become:

blurred with moss, knobby with barnacles, its shape is

hardly recognizable any more. Surely, it had a shape

once. It has a shape still in my mind.

What is the shape of my life?”

…………………… From the book, GIFT FROM THE SEA.

I was asked a similar question at the opening of the North
Star Underground Railroad Museum, Ausable Chasm, NY
on Saturday. I found that question to be so deeply personal
that I was stumped for words, and that remains with me.

I am grateful to that questioner, for it is such a good time
now to take a look at that. I’ll keep you posted.

with love …


STANDING. I had not realized how much I take for granted.
This morning I picked up a small book of poetic prayer,
intending to send to family and friends something from home.

A small reminder, maybe.
Instead, I found this amazing, simple awareness:

“This morning as I put my feet on the floor
let me remember how many thousands of years
it took for this act to be possible —-
the slow and painstaking development
so that a human creature could rise,
could stand on two feet, and then walk.

From the very beginning, from the first explosion
Your precise and patient love has been creating us.

The wonder is that now my hands are free
even as I walk or run or stand or dance.
The wonder is that now while I am upright
my eyes can gaze at the ground,
along the ground, and beyond to the horizon ….

I know You have made me
and all creatures for freedom ….
an ever-increasing, evolving freedom.
I am filled with awe by this.
It requires that we face the unknown,
that we rise to it.
You are still exploding in us
and I am scared.
My trust is so puny.

But You are near. You are here
even as You have been from the very first.
You are the vast time and space
in which life is happening. You are Life itself
providing us with centuries to become
Your conscious image.

With wonder at what You have entrusted to us,
help me to know that You are both
the ground and the being
apart from which there is nothing.
Help me to stand up
in Your freedom.”

…………GUNILLA NORRIS, from her book,
Being Home, a book of meditations.

This time of year, the bright lights conceal the fact
that we get up and return home in the dark. a time
for me to get started singing along with Pete Seeger,
“… this little light of mine,
I’m gonna let it shine,
let it shine,
let it shine,
let it shine.”
with love …


I have not spoken here, yet, of the experience of our family when we finally
welcomed our ancestor from obscurity, ours the re-discovery to create
openings in how, now, I see my world.

Look at that!
I started the sentence with the voice of ‘we’, and found myself in an ‘I’.
I can say that describes my shift: out of the ‘we’, the group of us,
I could feel my own presence more flexibly.
What a surprise.

A poet sums it up:

“We did not come to remain whole.

We came to lose our leaves like the trees,

The trees that are broken

And start again, drawing up from the great roots.”

…………….. ROBERT BLY.

Last Sunday we dedicated the headstone that told of his life and death,
135 years ago, my great -grandfather, Dr. James McCune Smith, buried
in Cypress Hills Cemetery, Brooklyn, NY.

His roots were great, and our coming together showed me how, unknowing,
each of us has carried on his heritage in some way of living, of being with
courage in the world.

LIke the white doves that were released to open the dedication,
I feel a freedom I had not known I sought. I welcome our new cousins,
and love that we do look as if we came from the same roots!

And so it is.

with love …


Did you know there are poetry workshops, not to celebrate
a development as a poet, but to work through personal issues
to find a “way” ? John Fox teaches poetry therapy in California.
His book, POETIC MEDICINE, is 303 pages of stories.

over last weekend, the life and death of Don Hewitt, creator of
’60 Minutes’ on CBS, was celebrated and his message to the
evening news: “Tell me a story.”

I’ll buy that!

Here are the words in Poetic Medicine of Mary K. Turner, M.D., a surgeon
on a trauma unit at a hospital in Indianapolis:

T H E W E L L ………………………

I am a well
ancient, enduring
even in the stark
and arid times
I have never gone
completely dry
Send your bucket down
my deep recesses
have much to give
Send the rain down
my mouth is open
to the gift from the wide sky
Send the storm down
though my weathered mortar
cracks, and the stones shift
I remain standing still

That poem is a metaphor for herself. Her summary of how it
shaped up came from her inner voice, reminding her that she is
more than what she does.

Writing that was her way of coming back to her inward self, saying,
it’s vital if I am to do the work I do and be the woman I am.

… standing … still, as in trust me, I am here.

Yeah, man, I got that.
with love …


Summer is full upon us, and for several days I have awakened to
golden light falling across my room. I can stretch in its warmth.

How luscious!

“In lush abundance how relieving it is to be stripped
down to essentials, to the bare truth that we are small,
insignificant, and precious. This is what is real.
To this essential poverty all is given.”

……..GUNILLA NORRIS, from A Mystic Garden,
Working with Soil, Attending to Soul.

I want to edit that quote, to eliminate words like

I will keep stripped,
bare truth,
because it is easy to accept those words,
that concept, in a season when each day
we can wear a different, washable THING!

When each day, we slip bare feet in sandals,
and the flip-flap sound is music.

It’s full summer. Very quietly, after days and weeks
of rain and cold fog, summer is here, really here.

I can be in awe of all that is alive.

I can be in natural wonder.

I can know the pace of peace.

Ah, summer.

with love …