A black bear is wandering our small city. Braving the busy main roads, trotting down quiet side streets and into little backyards, finding temporary refuge in the marshes and sparse woods. Two days ago, he was across from my mother’s house, … Continue reading
This funny thing keeps happening. I begin writing a post, and it veers into a new essay, or yesterday, a poem. I pluck it from the post and open a Word doc, and then never manage to return here. Most … Continue reading
I was going to tell you about the perfect summer evening. Of the cerulean sky. And how I feel dead honest when I write cerulean, entitled to that word because I was a painter, and if I had my tubes … Continue reading
Don’t miss these three new poems by Nick Flynn featured on Buzzfeed. What a world, right? A well-known poet and author releasing new work on Buzzfeed. I love everything about this.
When I studied with Gustaf Sobin, he said you should feel like you’re free-falling through the poem. That’s exactly how I feel when I read Nick Flynn.
Poetry. Hold it close. Hand copy it on lined notebook paper like it’s 1988. Read it out loud to yourself in the cool evening air.
Let it chisel a crack in the dam of your writer’s block.
(Post 189 of 365)
Me, every day.
by Wislowa Szymborska
Performance without rehearsal.
Body without alterations.
Head without premeditation.
I know nothing of the role I play.
I only know it’s mine. I can’t exchange it.
I have to guess on the spot
just what this play’s all about.
Ill-prepared for the privilege of living,
I can barely keep up with the pace that the action demands.
I improvise, although I loathe improvisation.
I trip at every step over my own ignorance.
I can’t conceal my hayseed manners.
My instincts are for happy histrionics.
Stage fright makes excuses for me, which humiliate me more.
Extenuating circumstances strike me as cruel.
Words and impulses you can’t take back,
stars you’ll never get counted,
your character like a raincoat you button on the run —
the pitiful results of all this unexpectedness.
If only I could just rehearse one Wednesday in advance,
or repeat a single Thursday that has passed!
But here comes Friday with a script I haven’t seen.
Is it fair, I ask
(my voice a little hoarse,
since I couldn’t even clear my throat offstage).
You’d be wrong to think that it’s just a slapdash quiz
taken in makeshift accommodations. Oh no.
I’m standing on the set and I see how strong it is.
The props are surprisingly precise.
The machine rotating the stage has been around even longer.
The farthest galaxies have been turned on.
Oh no, there’s no question, this must be the premiere.
And whatever I do
will become forever what I’ve done.
(Post 180 of 365)
My inspiring writer friend Rachel turned my attention to May Sarton this morning and started this first day of summer on the perfect note. A poem to keep like a prayer, rote, repeated, known. The Work of Happiness By May Sarton I thought of … Continue reading
I attended Catholic school from kindergarten through twelfth grade. Even my college was Catholic-affiliated. Today I think of Catholicism as an old family tradition. If asked whether I identify with a particular religion or philosophy, I would say I’m a … Continue reading
At art school in France twenty years ago, I studied with the poet Gustaf Sobin. I still have the slim red composition book from that class. He was the first writing mentor who inspired me; the first writer I’d encountered … Continue reading
Tonight a poem, well known and beloved. Mary Oliver’s Wild Geese. I keep this one on the side of my fridge. I love poetry. I love to hand copy poems, slow it down, become intimate with each word. There’s something sacred about it.
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the
My whole body exhales. Relief. Guilt runs deep and thick in my Irish Catholic family. I feel it in the marrow of my bones. Just recently I realized that part of what this project is is claiming myself. Maybe that’s what the whole thing is about. And as I claim myself, I release guilt.
You only have to let the soft animal of
love what it loves.
Yes. Motherhood has taught me that.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will
tell you mine.
This is why we write. And why we read. And how we love.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear
pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the
clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh
and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
Doesn’t she just leave you breathless and peaceful?