18 July 2013
A thing I learned to do today: how to secure my hair bun with a pencil. Finally. I’ve been trying for years, and then today, while working, frustrated with the humid weather and my progress–I did it again, out of the blue. And I’ve done it. Somehow, somewhere a piece finally fell into place.
Have you ever had things like that happen to you? A mystery, an answer which has eluded you for years. Then one day: you just know.
Here at my desk at this hour again. Barefoot and tapping my foot to some gypsy jazz: Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli (I love them), Fapy Lafertin, Jimmy Rosenberg, among others.
Do you listen to jazz? It is my favourite. I think it was made for my soul. I can’t imagine not ever listening to it, in this life or any other.
I pulled this book out of my shelf awhile ago–Seeing the Blue Between: Advice and Inspiration for Young Poets, compiled by Paul B. Janeczko.
For every other page, a letter begins: Dear Poet.
I reread it so I can bring you words–
“There is a place where all my poems begin.” (6)
– Siv Cedering
“It’s the poet inside of me who knows how to live. It’s the poet inside of me who is wide awake, and ready to embrace the beauty, the challenges, the mysteries in life. It’s the poet inside of me who celebrates living on a daily basis, and finds extraordinary joys in very ordinary moments.” (10)
– Kalli Dakos
“Experiment, / invent words, / invent forms,” (14)
– Michael Dugan
“Poetry names the secrets you didn’t know you were keeping.” (18)
– Robert Farnsworth
“Let the poem mature.” (31)
– Adam Ford
“Poetry is like that: being startled when you suddenly see the world differently…Ideas for poems come to me when I pay attention to the world.” (35)
– Kristine O’Connell George
“Bring your true self to the page.” (38)
– Nikki Grimes
“To revise is a poet’s life. To see and then to see again is what a poet’s life is all about.” (40)
– Georgia Heard
“Things are the stuff of poems.” (42)
– Christine Hemp
“The only people who ever become writers are readers.” (56)
– Andrew Hudgins
How do I know when a poem is finished?
Naomi Shihab Nye
When you quietly close
the door to a room
the room is not finished.
It is resting. Temporarily.
Glad to be without
you for awhile.
Now it has time to gather
its balls of gray dust,
to pitch them from corner to corner.
Now it seeps back into itself,
unruffled and proud.
Outlines grow firmer.
When you return,
you might move the stack of books,
freshen the water in the vase.
I think you could keep doing this
forever. But the blue chair looks best
with the red pillow. So you might as well
leave it that way.
My dear poet, my dear M: thank you for meeting me every day in this space.