Behind, ahead….


The year spins along, winding down to the last days on the calendar.

In 1999, I spent New Year’s Eve alone because my boyfriend (now husband) was at the South Pole, and I wanted time to consider whether my impending move to Alaska was the right thing for me. I was living in Ithaca, NY, at the time, and I went out at 11:45pm into the darkness of the little neighborhood park by my house. To my surprise, my neighbors were all outside, quietly talking in little groups, one moving about with a bottle of champagne and those little paper bathroom cups. It was exactly the right type of celebration. At midnight, fireworks went off over Cayuga Lake and spooked a small flock of Canadian Geese. We could hear them calling as they went overhead towards the hills. I remember thinking that man creates thresholds that nature does not recognize, and how nature has thresholds that we now have forgotten. The geese didn’t care about the millennium.

Now, close to eighteen years later, I realize that I could never have predicted the number and diversity of thresholds I’ve crossed. I am grateful for what each of them has taught me. If you are like me, this last year has been a series of difficult thresholds, through to the other side of what I thought I understood about the country I live in. But if you are like me, then you have probably also realized that this unkind political climate was always there, some of us were just cushioned from seeing it.

I certainly could never have predicted the profound impact of the internet on the way we gather news, connect with people, and even discuss poetry. When I started this blog seven years ago, I imagined all of the things it could be – a place to discuss poetry, share poems, consider the writing life. And it has been those things. But Facebook and Twitter and Instagram have taken some of the energy away; it’s so much easier to post a tweet than write something longer and more in depth. But easier isn’t always a better. In fact, easier is seldom better. So this year, I’ve pledged to post at least once each week on this blog along with a host of other poetry bloggers. I urge you to check out the list gathered by Kelli Russell Agodon and Donna Vorreyer. Subscribe and join in the conversation.

So many people have asked me to repeat my 2015 year of haiku! For the entire month of December I have been trying to decide if I want to restart that practice. To be honest, I don’t feel the energy there, but I do want to have a small daily writing practice with some accountability. Then I remembered Naomi Shihab Nye telling all of us gathered at the Kachemak Bay Writers’ Conference that she often has a notebook in which she is writing a poem line-by-line, day-by-day. One line a day. I can do that, right? Just watch on social media for the hashtag #apprenticetolight, and you’ll know that there’s a poem building there. Come here for more in depth conversation.

May the turning of the year be kind to you and yours. May we all listen a little more closely and reach out a little more often. Take care of yourself and others, and especially your corner of this beautiful world. Feed the birds. Go for walks. Read poetry. Set yourself down and pick up your pencil. May 2018 be filled with love and light for us all!

4 Replies to “Behind, ahead….”

  1. So jealous that you had a workshop with Naomi Shihab Nye. She was one of the poets who first made me fall in love with poetry again.

    Looking forward to your thoughts and your practice in the new year!

  2. She was the keynote speaker and just the loveliest. I adore her poetry as well. Thanks for gathering all of us!

  3. Hi Erin,

    I am here by way of the Tour. I echo Donna’s jealousy. Nye is one of my fave poets too. I live in rural South Australia and find the lack of interaction with other poets (FB and Twitter don’t really feel the same as blogging) almost crippling. Here’s to a good 2018.

  4. Hi Sean! Welcome! When I first start blogging, I felt the same way – Alaska has many fine writers, but we’re spread pretty thin on the ground. Glad to virtually meet you. Have a fabulous 2018.

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