Methods & Muses Vol. 24
Love Your Poems
I have exciting news!
My poetry chapbook, Grant Me the Tooth, is available for pre-order. Yay!
In this collection, I skate on a trail in Florida through flatwoods savanna, seeking wisdom and courage from trees, insects, reptiles, birds, mammals and my human family. I learn how my body is connected to nature, and how I have the tooth, the courage, to face major surgery.
Thanks to Nicci Mechler of Porkbelly Press, my poems are now within a beautiful, hand-stitched book “to read & to hold.” To pre-order a copy of Grant Me the Tooth, visit here, and please peruse Porkbelly’s catalogue for more artistically-crafted books.
I am honored to be part of this press. Thank you, Nicci. I love my book!
And speaking of love and art…
In her class, Wait, Wait! Let Me Rephrase This, poet and teacher Laure-Anne Bosselaar insists that we love our poems. She supports her conviction by saying that if we devote time and energy to the work of poets we admire, why wouldn’t we extend the same devotion toward our own poetry?
I took Laure-Anne’s class earlier this month and loved it! Her course offered a challenging and effective method for revising, or in other words, she answered the question how to love our poems. She also answered why. Why should we love our poems? Because they are ours, our children who we make.
How and why are two of my favorite questions.
I like how because I am fascinated by process, especially those involving art.
I like why because I am a curious toddler, a student of critical analysis.
When my niece Hannah was 3, deep within the twirl of her why stage, we took a walk in my parents’ neighborhood. Sadly, we came upon a dead Black Racer snake.
Hannah was full of questions:
How did the snake die?
Why didn’t the car see the snake?
Why do adults drive so fast?
Why were the ants all around the snake?
And the biggie, Why does anything have to die?
For each question, I tried to answer with gentle honesty:
Yes, it’s sad, but cars kill animals.
You may be able to see from your car seat, but adults can’t always see or slow down.
I think the ants are eating the snake.
And the biggie, Honey, I’m not sure why.
My niece furrowed her brow. To try to make her feel better, I said, “Just remember, for every dead animal that you might see, there are more alive ones in the wild.”
She wasn’t fully satisfied with this answer, and neither was I, but we walked back to my parents’ home. Thankfully, as luck or goddess-magic would have it, there was a Black Racer snake swimming in their pool. Hannah looked at me and smiled.
I breathed a sigh of relief.
For that moment, we sort of had an answer, the cycle of life and death in front of us in the form of a gorgeous snake. Of course, there would be many more moments where the world would not make any sense at all, but alas, I am a writer, a toddler, a student and a teacher, so I look for answers to big questions anyway.
One method I use to sort the biggies is the trusty ol’ list.
So if you want to explore how and why, tap the breaks.
Make a love list.
Fill in the blanks:
Why do I love ______?
How do I love ______?
I’ll start with some examples:
Why do I love Benjamin?
Because he is smart, witty-goofy, intuitive, generous, calm. Because he hears rhythms and melodies, and he is one hell of a bass player with magic fingers.
How do I love him?
I listen, make him laugh, inspire songs, make tacos and rub his hands.
Why do I love my body?
Because I am alive, I can walk again, and my brain and heart offer poems.
How do I love my body?
I listen, feed her well, rest, quench her thirst, take her for long strolls and bike rides.
Why do I love my poetry community?
Because we are funny and strange. We prefer deep talk to small. Because while it’s still hard for many of us to go out, we are going, and because while we are quiet and need tons of alone time, we belly laugh when we are together.
How do I love my poetry community?
I listen to my colleagues and mentors. I attend workshops, sing the praises of indy presses, wander and sip tea with poets like Alison Townsend and Catherine Jagoe.
Why do I love my town?
Because folks plant vegetable gardens and wild flowers in their yards, they tend to fruit trees and welcome pollinators. Because Farmer Derek picks up my food compost and we thank each other for our environmentalism.
How do I love my town?
I walk and ride my bike. I visit the food coop, farmer’s market, bakeries, cafés, restaurants, thrift shops, book stores and galleries. I say hello to trees, gaze at the lake and river, smile at dogs and people and wonderfully weird yard art, and I muse, grateful that I am home.
I’ll end here, with a gift-scroll of photo moments, with love, from Madison:
Pear Tree on Walton Street
Yahara River Meets Lake Monona
Yahara River, Water Lilies
Capital City Bike Path
Lake Monona with Favorite Bench and Cottonwood Trees
Studious Frog Art
Willy Street Mural