Reader, I’ve been playing hooky. I spent the day up in the city at the Asian Art Museum with a dear friend. Soon I’ll be dashing off to hear one of my po-friends read up in the College Town. The upshot is a mini-roundup, and frozen pizzas for dinner. Whoever said a person can have it all has never tried to take in art and poetry, write a blog post, and feed a family, all on the same day.
all those tiny changes So, I don’t know if you’ve heard the news? That poetry is, well, I don’t know how to break this to you, but apparently poetry is dead. And the reason appears to be that it can’t change anything. I guess if you want poetry to change income inequality or gun control laws or education funding you might be disappointed. But I’ve never read poetry hoping it would change anything other than my understanding of something, or perhaps the tenor of my day, or the quality of attention I paid to a particular object or issue. Sometimes I don’t even care if it does that — I’m happy if a poem is simply beautiful, or intriguing, or sounds cool, or makes me laugh. Sandy Longhorn wrote a great post about all the tiny changes poetry makes in us if we let it. It’s my favorite of many responses to the original Washington Post piece. I hope you will go read it here.
Enter the sweet Why And speaking of intriguing poems, I’ve been reading Jean Valentine’s cycle of Lucy poems. They are so very intriguing, and, in my assessment, are very much alive and kicking. No, they don’t seem dead at all.
from the Lucy poems by Jean Valentine:
Enter the sweet Why
Don’t entreat it
or question why
was sweetness done to you
done unto you
what I wanted most the mother
has come to me
Will she stay in my ear? Lucy
Is it you?
Still all night long my
Lucy I entreat you
I will not let thee go unless thou bless me.
I love the sounds of this poem. I love that it cries out to a great mystery. I love that it interacts with another foundational text (the last line is from the book of Genesis) and the story of Jacob wrestling the angel, or some vague embodiment of the divine. I love that the phrases are a bit slippery — they can move and shift thanks to very little punctuation and non-standard syntax.
And now Reader, I could say more. Specifically, I could say more about the building of forts out of blankets and pillows and stools with large stacks of books for weight. And about the philosophical musings I have done on the building of forts that, of course, eventually, have to be taken apart and put away in a house as small as the Wee, Small House. I could say more about the horrible sadness and lethargy that often comes after a great burst of fort-building energy. And about the temptation of declaring a ban on all fort building now and forevermore! I could, but I won’t. Not today. Today my brain is mush and I still have to go to the store to buy some frozen pizza before the babysitter gets here.
Whatever your passion is in this world, I hope it’s alive and kicking. Happy weekend!