Hello, Reader, and happy Friday. It has been One of Those Weeks. I will not bore you with the details. I will just share some things from the (very small) space of poetry in my life this week.
reading first Weeks like this — I think of them as O-fers: Life: 357, Poetry: 0 — I turn to a very special file I keep in my cabinet. It has just one item in it: a piece of paper with just one sentence on it. Here is the sentence:
“Love reading first, and the poetry will find its place… Then write, and love the work of writing –“
Rita Dove wrote this, and her words are a comfort to me during times when life is winning and there’s not much room for writing poetry. Regardless of the shenanigans Life is up to, I can always find a few minutes to read here and there. I make sure I find those minutes. This practice, and Dove’s words, always remind me of the source of my poetry: reading. The writing comes later. Sometimes much later. I can live with this.
a little less extinguished Now and then the old “Is poetry dead?” debate flares. While I used to pay attention to that debate, in recent years I’ve just become bored with it. This week, I came across some words that express why. They are from Katie Ford (apologies to those who have already seen this on my Facebook status this week, but I think it bears repeating):
When I read this, I thought: Bingo. I have never, ever sat down with Contemporary American Poetry. But I have sat down with a poem countless times. It is a poem that is alive, and it is a reader who is alive. Amen.
Hurry, tailors. One of the things I found time to read this week is the most recent issue of Cave Wall, one of my favorite journals of poetry and art. Amongst the many fine poems, there was one that spoke to me especially as I’ve continued to ponder our torn world. It is a mending poem, and one of several poems in the issue by Sandra Beasley whose newest book Count the Waves is just out from Norton. After I read this poem, I was a little less extinguished. I hope you will be, too.
The Traveler’s Vade Mecum, Line #4983: “HOW LONG AGO WAS IT?”
by Sandra Beasley
The seams of our gold world weaken —
gussets fray under the arms of the post office,
and the oriole’s throat loosens its embroidery.
There are two ways a world can be edged:
with selvage, as a weft retreats
into itself, or with a marrying stitch.
Thread the needle of your bodies,
gather and placket. Hem the peach’s flesh
where the stone pulled free. I
can only watch as each sequin of water
dissolves at your touch. But still,
skirt the shore in its ocean.
Clothe the house in its roof.
There is a threadbare spot in the eastern canopy —
You, lift the bobbin. You, measure the cut.
Don’t look down, tailor.
Steady the hand that dares mend a sky.
Let us all be menders.
Have a wonderful weekend, and thanks for reading.