Saturday, July 30, 2011

Poet on a leash

Last night I went into Seattle to celebrate the release of the latest issue of Floating Bridge Review.  I had no idea what to expect: my blogsister (and poet extraordinaire) Maureen had encouraged me to enter their chapbook contest but I'd thought of it more as an exercise, and hadn't realized that poems entered as part of the chapbook might be invited to appear in their review.

I think it's a bit like that thing Woody Allen says in one of his movies: "I wouldn't want to be a member of any club that would have me as a member" -- I just assumed that if one of my poems got in, the caliber of the poetry must be questionable?  You have to remember: I may be an English major, I may have studied poetry in college, but as a poet I'm a fairly recent fledgling, and not at all secure -- or even that practiced -- in my craft.

But the poems (I began reading them on the ferry, on the way to the event; the Review had arrived a day or so earlier) were wonderful, extraordinary, exhilarating to read, and I began to understand that this was, in fact, an honorable gathering; that I was extremely fortunate to be invited to participate.

And then I got to watch and hear them read.  What a treat!  What I had thought might be a boring evening was absolutely delicious, rich with laughter and tears, gasps of delight and sorrow, and as I watched the people who read BECAME their poems; it was simply extraordinary.

And so, of course, today, I am just exploding with poetry; I had to write before I could even meditate, had to release a little air out of my word balloon or I would simply burst.  And so, of course, today would be one of those mornings when the dog was determined to go for his walk before I'd even finished my coffee; determined, also, to take a longer, slower walk than usual.

It was a good zen lesson: I stood there, waiting for him to poop, words swirling in my head, when suddenly I thought, "You are NOT really here!"  There I was, on one of the most gorgeous mornings we've had this gray summer, with sunlight sparkling on the shells and last night's seaweed deposit, and all I could think of was getting back to my paper and pencil.  Well, duh!

So I relaxed and gave the dog his head, let him wander down the beach, straining at the leash and sniffing all the latest additions of stinky things, and realized -- my pulling him away from this, the highlight of his day, is not all that different from him pulling me away from the poems, the highlight of my day. Because now that my husband is back from his trip, that uninterrupted hour in the morning is terribly precious again, and I resent the time I spend away from my pencil, my meditation, and my computer.  I am, in fact, a poet on a leash again...

Sigh. There are lessons everywhere, aren't there!


karen gerstenberger said...

SO glad to hear that you had a wonderful evening with other poets sharing your (and their) work. Your thoughts remind me of a pillow I have, which has a quote on it(attributed to V. Van Gogh): "If you hear a voice within you saying 'You are not a painter,' then by all means, paint. And that voice will be silenced."

I love the dog story, and love the Woody Allen quote, true! Love to you.

Maureen said...

Isn't it true, the dogs always show us a way?

So pleased for you and glad you enjoyed the reading event.

Your poem "Defiance" really tugs. I was rooting for the dogs and hoping they'd find a safe place.

Louise Gallagher said...

Thank you for sharing your lessons so graciously. I learn and grow and evolve everytime I read what you write and see what you create.

Congrats on the chapbook entry!

PS You made me smile. That quote was one my father's favourite sayings. He was irrascible and witty, just like Groucho Marx who was the originator of the phrase.

Diane Walker said...

LOVE that quote, Karen -- and thanks, Louise, for setting me straight; that does, truly, sound more like a Groucho phrase -- and I'd much rather credit it to him!

Yes, Maureen, I was rooting for the dogs, too. It was a very odd situation to watch...