Sunday 4 March 2007
I spent the morning memorizing "in Just-" by E. E. Cummings. What a ringbox! The "far and wee" of the little lame baloonMan grows wee-er and wee-er as he skips through the park and so when "and eddieandbill come/running from marbles" comes running around again it's "and bettyandisbel come dancing/from hop-scotch and jump-rope and" the whole rhythm changes and quickens and their dancing calls forth the dance of spring and conveys its happy arrival. Six syllables become nine in a measure of that blossoming. And so spring begins, in this way, crafting a palpable rush.
The music in poetry is something we need. It is a conduit for myth and message and image. Listen to your life. Listen to the tree flippering in the breeze. The shoreline sifting punching and rolling. Listen to spring.
Karen, Carl and DiAnne visit with this bit of news, "Poetry is so big!" Yes it is. It's huge, though it needs only a caretaker, one single person, to stewart or print or publish a poem, to bring it to someone. I read Mary Oliver's "Wild Geese" to this threesome. Afterwards Karen explains, "I subscribe to The Sun. I'm reading all this personal writing, and then you're here. I don't have to look at a screen. You're a real person."
My body, my Green Lake presence, this body that offers up poetry on Sundays, excites Nancy more than The Sun because it's alive. And you, Karen, you are here too. And this is sometimes the most harsh and exciting of all, the fact that humans have this rare and direct access to one another. To catch onto the notes of a goose is one thing. To follow a rooster's song over a metal roof. But to connect with another human being, to make one word of sense, that is remarkable! That is intense! And is, most arguably, miraculous! And you're here. And I'm here. And that's exciting and news. That's really the most important thing that will happen today.
Karen calls attention to the differences between the art of poetry and the other arts, such as music and theatre, in which the artist stands before an audience, in which the human body is there to send its messages, on all the levels that the body can send messages, voice, posture, gesture, mood. Modern poetry is mostly a visual experience, taken from the page, without an artist in tow, without a human appendage. Poetry rarely begins at the microphone. It lies in wait at a desk. It feeds a drawer. Poetry files all those seed packets away and cultivates that perfect line. It comes then, if it is lucky, to a place that demands communication, real and retrievable. So the poet sends out her work, to a contest or magazine, or shares it with a friend. And depending on their response and her fortitude and her present need, she pushes on or withdraws. What happens now is critical. It determines where the poet will go with her work. For if she is rejected, it may take years, lifetimes, before she is ready to dance again. But if she is called forth and praised, she may gush and say all she needs to say and close her mouth forever. Or she may say too much and spill a tide of verse upon the shore.
And so, when you encounter a poet who is willing to stand up and say "I am a poet," when you find someone willing to harness and exhibit their search for you, you can be sure that what stands before you is a poet, a true poet serving a timeless need. And you can rest assured in your praise of her. For you would be praising yourself and your dreams and your future and your past.
What are the benefits of having a real person, a live poet, in the world? Are dead ones not enough?
FROM THE POET WITH LOVE
A woman stops by to tell me about her interactions with the poet Ted Kooser. She went to a reading of his once long ago and signed onto his mailing list. Now, every Valentine's Day, he sends her a postcard with a love poem on it. Sources say Ted been doing this (for his female audience) for over 20 years. He admits to taking great personal pleasure from it. What is Ted's pleasure in this activity? Satisfying others? Attending to love? Nuturing?
What is the significance of personal contact between the public and their poets? How does poetry live?
"Can you read us something hopeful in these trying political times?" I read "in Just-" by E. E. Cummings. And Arleen shook my hand and said, "Have a great day."
"Do you have a poem to help bring balance to our lives?" I read "The Beautiful Lawn Sprinkler" by Howard Nemerov. They are forecasting severe world peace in 2036. They say a meteor is going to hit.
"Do you have any Rilke?" "Thank you." "That gave me my message for today."
Geraldine puts a poem out on her fencepost every other week. She posts a poem for the passing pedestrians at 3733 Corliss Ave North, at 38th and Corliss in Seattle. Go and see. Go and see your poem.
They bring me poetry! This is as good as it can get. Mark brought me an Owen Wilfred poem. Toni brought her own verse. Another Mark brought the tale in verse of Sam MacGee by Robert Service. An anonymous woman brought "The Sun Never Shines" by Hafiz. Bill and Phillip brought James Hunt. This is as good as it gets.
A GREEN LAKE QUIZ
How tall will a tulip grow?
What does a billy goat say?
What is the purpose of public art?
True or false? Olmstead saved Green Lake.
True or false? Olmstead killed Green Lake.
When is the next algal bloom?
What kind of fish can you catch and eat, with what bait?
What does a grebe say?
When does the swallow visit?
Where do cottonwoods grow?
What thrives under a black walnut tree?
Where goes the rabbit-o, out along the greeny-o?