I read enough these days that poetry is dying, an anachronism in the increasingly rapid digital world, destined for extinction, irrelevant to today’s world…
And then I read about 100,000 poems from 300 contemporary poets from 204 countries being dropped on London. A sky full of poems. The Chilean arts collective Casagrande has orchestrated poetry drops (poems on bookmarks) five times previously. In their experience, there has never been a need for a massive cleanup afterwards because people have picked up every poem. Cristobal Bianchi, a member of Casagrande, said, “Every time we have done this before there is not a single bookmark on the ground – people collect them all,” he said. “People fight for the poems, and it becomes a collective reading of poetry.”
And then I watch the videos here of smiling people reaching up to pluck poems from the air. Children gathering them by the handfuls. People reading and sharing what they’ve found. Laughing. Poems fluttering down through twilight into waiting arms.
I tell you. It’s enough to make a grown poet cry….
Trusting – We are animals. Of course humans want to feel that we’re special, above the rest of the critters running about, but deep down, we’re animals. We create art, we sing, we write, but we also hurt physically, need the comfort of sympathetic touch, crave food that satisfies us. It feels good to trust my animal body, to push it to work harder, to reward it with arugula and blue cheese, cold water, an apple.
Grateful – Sometimes a voice comes back. This week, I’m reading W.B. Yeats’s The Celtic Twilight. I’m sure I read it the first time many many years ago. My little Irish heart beats faster to the rhythm of Yeats’s words. “Let us go forth, the tellers of tales, and seize whatever prey the heart longs for, and have no fear. Everything exists, everything is true, and the earth is only a little dust under our feet.” Well, maybe I don’t feel like the earth is only a little dust, but I’m grateful for Yeats’s permission to seize the prey my heart longs for – those stories that yearn to unscroll beneath my pencil onto the page.
Inspired – Oh sure, the internet is a time and soul-sucking morass of ridiculousness. Except when it isn’t. Like today – on Facebook – two poems that took my breath away for different reasons. Two poems that speak to the world. Two poems that made my want to write more poems.
Pachyderm by Sherman Alexie
The 8th of May: A Vow Made for the 7th of May by Daniel Nathan Terry
And yes, you do have time to go read them. Go, go now. Seize whatever prey your heart longs for.
Oh yes, I have indeed been writing a dreadful draft each day.
Sort of like algebra, the way
the sides can be balanced by subtracting…
Consider the way his story
has pulled through my life, a bright needle…
And this evening:
What is broken stays, drawing dust
in corners. Follow a broken path…
Nothing genius but I hold to my commitment to keep running down the darkened hallway hoping that at the end is a doorway into the light.