Thinking through the keyboard, again.
Last Thursday was Poem in your Pocket day in the NYC public schools (named after a poem of the same name by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers). The girl was thrilled, loved the whole concept, and I think relieved to find out Mama isn’t the only person in the world who reads poetry. 😉 We talked about poetry on the way to school this morning, what is a poem, no they don’t have to rhyme, etc. For whatever reason it gave me some hope, some “oh yeah, something beautiful and worthwhile can come from anything, anywhere.”
Poems and poets are undervalued in our world. The words usually heard in connection are along the lines of ; frivolous, sappy, overwrought, angst–almost always these words are accompanied by eye rolling and a drawn out story of being forced to memorize something long and musty. I used to write a lot of poetry, and I’ll be the first to admit that many of the poems were overwrought and angsty, though not long. But. There is no art as perfect. Like watching Masters play a game of chess, fluid.
Mama’s father liked poetry, so of course Mama thought she hated it. Everything he showed me was looooong,rhyming, and usually a sonnet. Not for me then or now. But then I found a book of Carl Sandburg’s works smashed in the middle of the bookshelf over the telephone. I think this was the first poem I ever memorized, and I’m not sure I realized what I memorized wasn’t the entire poem, but just the first stanza.
excerpt from Four Preludes to a Playthings of the Wind
The woman named Tomorrow
sits with a hairpin in her teeth
and takes her time
and does her hair the way she wants it
and fastens the last braid and coil
and puts the hairpin where it belongs
and turns and drawls: Well, what of it?
My grandmother, Yesterday, is gone.
What of it? Let the dead be dead.
Why did this poem speak to 10 yo Mama? No clue, though I’m guessing the reason could be found in thirty years of analysis. 😉 What I know is it opened a whole new world, a world I’ve been able to visit throughout my life. Some of the poems I used to love don’t do it for me anymore. There’s a time and a place for Anne Sexton’s In Celebration of My Uterus, and that time is long past. The beauty is in still being able to pick up the collected works of Sexton and find a phrase that sings, an image so clear it hurts, words that can be tasted.