National Poetry Month, Day 30: Plugs!

Well, folks, it’s been a great month.

A living room. Where one could, say, sit in the sun and read poetry.

A living room. Where one could, say, sit in the sun and read poetry.

I’m going to say out loud something I have mostly only said in my head: poetry is a dying art. I don’t always believe that, but more and more, I do. In this world of blogs, tweets, and texts, we all have lost our attention spans. And poetry, usually, requires us to sit with things for a bit. It’s a hard task, and I wonder how many of us will still be sitting down to read poetry in ten or twenty or thirty or a hundred years.

Doing this blog all month, I have realized a couple of things about myself. I used to be a very dedicated poet. I inhabited that basement room where poets live: we were off the grid, into something a little off-kilter, part of what felt like a secret world, because so few others were in the room with us. And I loved it. I wrote many, many poems, some of which got published, many of which did not. I didn’t have to miss poetry because it was my entire existence.

Then, in 2004, when I cut out and went to travel around the world with my now-hubs, B., my relationship to poetry changed. When we got back to the States I decided I was going to write very seriously for a year, so we got a cheap apartment, I took a part-time job, and I wrote. The trouble was that I couldn’t fill the time. For me poetry happened in little fits and starts; I’d write all morning some days, and on others, I’d write for ten minutes. Or not at all. There was all that time. It was only natural that after a while, I started to write prose, which for me is something you can chip away at all day, all week (or for seven long years).

But I realized that I lost something when I stopped writing poetry: I had stopped slowing down and sitting with things in the same way. And I missed it. I still miss it.

I’m pleased to report that my long break from poetry officially ended when I started the postcard poem project with Mike Dockins. It ended because now I have an imperative to write a poem every couple of weeks. It’s not the same as it used to be, but it’s something. And it’s all coming back to me: that necessity of being slow, of being careful, even of being kind of frivolous and capturing a moment or an emotion without dogging it to death (as I do when I write, say, an essay). And I realized that the world really does need poetry, for that very reason. Because it slows us down, because it exists outside of our crazy world. It gives us a unique challenge. There’s nothing else like poetry.

Which is all to say that I hope I’m wrong that poetry is dying out, and I have resolved to help in that cause. Here’s how you can help, too.

Support Poetry Daily! It’s a great site, with a poem a day, and while I have not yet been featured there, I hope someday I will be. They’re in their spring membership campaign, and you can donate here.

faith-meserveBuy books of poetry! You can buy mine here.

Support your local literary magazine!

Support your local poetry in the schools effort. California’s can be found here.

Read poetry to your kids! Some of my favorite kids’ books include everything by Shel Silverstein and Judith Viorst’s If I Were in Charge of the World.

Read poetry yourself. In addition to the many fine poets I featured this month, check out T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, Wallace Stevens, Marianne Moore, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Robert Lowell, H.D., Lawrence Ferlinghetti, John Ashberry, Gary Snyder, Jorie Graham, Louise Glück, Adrienne Rich, Cathy Song, Carolyn Forche, Joy Harjo, Carolyn Kizer, Heather McHugh, Russel Edson, James Tate, Dara Wier, Ai, David Rivard, Tomaz Salamun, Wislawa Zymborska, Adam Zagajiewski, Margaret Atwood, Rita Dove, Tess Gallagher, Marie Howe, Deborah Digges, Mary Oliver, W.S. Merwin, Charles Olson, Cornelius Eady, Matthew Rohrer, Matthew Dickman, Michael Dickman, Joshua Beckman, Cate Marvin, Brenda Shaughnessy….the list goes on and on. Who are YOUR favorites?

Finally, good news for me! I got a poem accepted for publication recently. It’s forthcoming in the journal Rock & Sling. Stay tuned.

All warm poetic thoughts to you,

Susie

Charles Wright poem on Poetry Daily today

I love the work of poet Charles Wright, and I loved the two poems from his book Caribou, reprinted on Poetry Daily today.

Enjoy!

——-

My Old Clinch Mountain Home

I keep on hoping a theme will bite me,
                                                       and leave its two wounds
In my upper arm and in my heart.
A story line of great destiny,
                                         or fate at least.
It’s got to be serious, as my poor flesh is serious.
So, dog, show me your teeth and bite me.
                                                            Show me some love.

Such little consequence, our desires.
Better to be the last chronicler of twilight, and its aftermath.
Better to let your hair swing loose, and dust up the earth.
I’d like to be a prophet,
                                  with animals at my heels.
I’d like to have a staff, and issue out water wherever it fell.

Lord, how time does alter us,
                                          it goes without saying.
There is an afterlight that follows us,
                                                     and fades as clockticks fade.
Eventually we stand on it puddled under our shoes.
The darkness that huddles there
Is like the dew that settles upon the flowers,
                                                               invisible, cold, and everywhere.

When the wind comes, and the snow repeats us,
                                                                     how like our warped lives it is,
Melting objects, disappearing sounds
Like lichen on gnarled rocks.
For we have lived in the wind, and loosened ourselves like ice melt.
Nothing can hold us, I’ve come to know.
                                                           Nothing, I say.

–Charles Wright, from Caribou, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux

 

Temporal Linearity

I noticed that my former teacher and mentor from UMass Amherst, Dara Wier, had a poem on Poetry Daily today.

Read “Relentless Usurpation of Temporal Linearity” here.

Dara’s work continues to push into the theoretical, it seems to me, but I found this image beautifully grounded:

And yes, watching ice skaters, the kind called figure skaters,
the ones who aren’t doing anything other than tracking again &

again some figure of infinity marked out on ice for them…

Enjoy.

Literary Giving

I had such fun coming up with the 2012 Literary Gift Guide, but it made me think about how this season is not just for giving gifts to your favorite writer but also about giving to those who are less fortunate. I have been thinking of my own charitable giving for the Christmas season and deciding what form it will take. Food drive? Coat drive? A donation to an aid organization? Hurricane relief? I am open to suggestions, readers, so please feel free to share your thoughts.

In the meantime, I thought I’d make a list of five literary places that need your support this season.

1. Poetry Daily has a notice up on its site this morning: they’re $18,000 shy of their fundraising goal. I plan to send them $20, since they have given me my daily dose of poetry for going on twelve years.

2. Your local library can always use a little extra support.

3. 826 Valencia, which is “dedicated to supporting students 6–18 with their writing skills,” among other things, could always use your money. I like how, on their donate page, they give you concrete examples of what your money could buy.

4. A literacy organization. I’d like to plug A Chance through Literacy,  founded by my friend Jennifer Wilson, who was killed a little over a year ago. Luckily, her organization continues to do its good work in the field of literacy. And there are many others that need donations, too.

5. Write Around Portland. I’d forgotten about this great organization until today. If you’d rather give locally, look for an organization in your area that helps under-served populations using the power of writing.

And what a power it is!

Susie