Thursday, October 27, 2011

Falling in Love

I got Ted Kooser's "The Poetry Home Repair Manual" in the mail and I'm reading it now. His words make me think of my own history of poetry. I made up rhymes as a child, considering it a game. I wanted to be a writer, but I preferred stories, because they were big enough to live in, to get lost in. In high school and college, I wrote poems that were mere wordplay, witty but without beauty. I lacked understanding of the essence of poetry.

As a literature student, I had the opportunity to study a variety of poetry. But we were taught to ask what does it mean? and we dissected the words of these men and women while ignoring the inherent beauty contained within the work, aurally and visually. And while I learned about the place of poetry in culture, in revolution, it was like a puzzle to be decoded, another game.

And then I met a poet who taught us to look at the beauty of poetry, to say it out loud and listen to its music. To let it inhabit us. And I fell in love. (with poetry. with life.) I was twenty one years old.

Six short years and one transatlantic move later, I have over a dozen poetry books on my shelf, and have written draft after draft. The writing of poetry has become to me a life-affirming, even sacred act. Something of the game remains, but one played for higher stakes. (That is, myself.)

And yet I also face the gaps in my education, the gaps in my technique and ability. The road ahead is fog-ridden, filled with drifting ghosts of my own doubt. But I walk through it without fear. There are few things in my life that I want badly enough to risk failure, rejection, humiliation. Poetry is It.

Something I wrote after reading Kooser:
Dreaming of Poetry

I don’t want fame;
I don’t even like
my name. But I want
to write a poem
that someone else
will speak out loud
that will change
the shape of their breath,
of their thought.

I want to write
a poem that gleams
bright enough
to be mistaken
for a star, a poem mysterious
as ether, and as concrete
as a plum, purple and ripe,
with a pithy heart.

I want to write a poem
that flies with other poems
season after season,
the sky alive with beating wings.

Words you could read to the blind,
sounds you can almost touch.

I want to write a poem
that is beyond the limits
of my skin, of my mind,
of my dream. A Poem
that is beyond me.

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