"Poetry often enters through the window of irrelevance." --M.C. Richards--
To me, this quote means that poetry finds us when and where we least expect it. Creeping in through an open window, stealing across the rambling front lawn, blistering up in the cracks in the pavement. I started this blog in April of 2005 because I had just returned from a life-changing, year-long writing community experience and I needed a place to digest it. Initially, this was just a place for my solitary musing and for revealing my writing-self to my family and friends. A creative coming-out, if you will...one of the first groups I'd ever heard of as a blogger was Poetry Thursday. I was an instant addict--and have been ever since.
Sometimes poetry can enter through the window of a computer screen, as unexpected as this may be. With the announcement that PT is ending, I am feeling grateful for the experience of this organic community cropping up one day a week to revel in the deliciousness of words. The sincerity and attention of the other PTers has given me a comfortable landing spot for my own creative pursuits. Liz and Dana asked me to write a feature back in National Poetry Month...which was incredibly rewarding. I decided to write about why poetry mattered in my life and, by doing so, created a sort of personal writing mission statement/manifesto. Several days before it was due, I had a dream about Billy Collins, Rita Dove, and Ruth Stone (and a congressional hearing--poetry entering through the windows of irrelevance again). I used this as my introduction, then kept right on spinning my thoughts in contrast to an old, often discussed essay of a similar vein. I was happy to have been included in Poetry Thursday's features, read through the comments and emails people sent to me with pleasure, then moved on to the next big thing.
What I want to share is that this feature led to just one example of kindness from this particular group of writers. While I was on a bit of a blogging break earlier this summer, a lovely poet stopped by to let me know that she had been delighted to see my quote from Poetry Thursday in the Poetry Ireland Review. I broke my online silence to find out what she was talking about and she did more than just tell me what was quoted from my Poetry Thursday feature, she went FAR above and beyond and sent me a copy of the issue!
Yes, that's me appearing in the "Pickings and Choosings" section--um...yes, why I AM surrounded by writing giants on all sides. Five down from Billy Collins, who just happened to be in my dream, remember? And a couple of spaces above Jeanette Winterson...to name only a few on "my" page. I was just a little bit excited about this (a-hem). But, the thing is--had Imelda not told me about this quote in the spirit of offering encouragement to a fellow Poetry Thursday participant, I never would have known it happened! So, I wanted to thank her here, publicly, for this--just as I want to thank Liz and Dana for starting Poetry Thursday in the first place. It cultivated a regular poetry routine for me at a time when I was lost in my fiction writing...every Thursday, I honored my first writing-love and I do not plan to stop anytime soon.
This morning, I was up before the sun--stricken with insomnia and ideas for M.'s birthday dinner tonight (happy birthday, M., if you are reading this). I sat in the wicker chair in front of the window and opened the shade up wide to let the night in. The waning moon dipped in and out of clouds and I finished the last poem of this intoxicating book, breathing deeply to steady my thrumming heartbeat. When a book ends, when a poem ends, when a community ends--it is the perfect moment to celebrate it, and then, revel in delirious new beginnings.
Q and A: When do you know a poem is done?
by Julianna Baggott
I have said that each shirtless boy pumping a bike could be a lover,
that a new baby needs attending. There is no
a shift of attention.
Like this: I determine that it's spring.
An observation not of bright crocus beaks breaking ground from
below or rain,
but some clockwork,
my whole body suddenly tightening with blood.
Sometimes, yes, forewarned by slow warming,
but usually it's as if winter were an old house in a field
torn down while I slept
and I'm not sad that it's gone,
by how much sky it had been holding back.
(Pleiades Press, 2007)