I missed yesterday. I'm a little bummed about it, but am trying not to be discouraged. Life happens.
This morning I got into the car and turned on NPR, bracing myself for my daily onslaught of disturbing news. Instead, I landed in the middle of an interview with a poet, whom I quickly identified as Kwame Alexander. (Imagine my smugness when this was confirmed at the end of the interview.) He read a poem inspired by his daughters and by e. e. cummings, and by the end of it, I was in tears with joy. The sun was rising behind the mountain and the sky was all pink and gold glory. I thought--even if this is the only good part of the day, it will be a great day.
The rest of the day delivered, though. Sixth period (last class!
on a Friday! the week before spring break!) one girl looked at me and whispered. "It's so quiet in here. Everyone is actually reading." Also, I stress-baked last night, so I had biscuits and chocolate cookies to snack on throughout the day. My son had a great day at school, my husband already had dinner planned, and the boy whose mom I talked to the other day was on his best behavior too.
I was so delighted by being read poetry in the morning that I got onto Audible and used one of my husband's credits to get Good Poems, a collection of poetry read by Garrison Keillor on Writer's Almanac over the years. The print version would give me time to mull over (or, perhaps, skim past) certain poems, but it is really going to class up my commute to have someone reading me poetry the whole way.
Here are the lines I pulled while washing dishes:
"I hear a butterfly stirring inside a caterpillar." Charles SimicSomething about change, possibility, and grace in here that I really needed to hear right now.
"What luxury, to be so happy we can grieve over imaginary lives." Liesel Mueller
A reminder for all us book lovers. The people in the poem are weeping over Chekov.
And from the book Alexander was being interviewed about this morning:
"Find your way to that one true word
from Kwame Alexander's "How to Write a Poem"I love that sly little pause and addition at the end.
I don't think of myself as a "poetry person." Emily Dickinson baffles me, and anything fancier than that feels like a test I'm failing. I also struggle with writing poetry. Whenever I attempt it, I end up with prose with weird line breaks. (That's why I'm so fond of haiku and limericks--I can spout cheerful nonsense within those formats and call it light verse.) But there are definitely poets and poetry I love, and Keillor's collection is right up my alley. Robert Frost, e.e. cummings, Mary Oliver, Raymond Carver, Billy Collins. Straightforward, but still poetic, with an ability to surprise and illuminate.
A short list of poetry books that I've connected to over the years:
- A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stephenson "How do you like to go up in a swing? Up in the air so blue?"
- The Golden Treasury of Poetry "Ink trickled down to the bottom of the household, while little mouse Blink strategically mouse-holed."
- Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein "My baby brother ran away, and now my tuba will not play."
- The Collected Poems of e. e. cummings "I like my body when it is with your body."
- Sixty Odd by Ursula K. Le Guin "The fern-stem world will live a year and a day."
- What Are Big Girls Made Of by Marge Piercy "Guard my body from disdain as age widens me like a river delta."