Vistas

Yesterday our friends had organized a gathering at their house to explore the poetry of Wallace Stevens.  I read his bio on Wikipedia and noticed that his life more or less coincided with that of Margaret Sanger. I wondered if he knew about her. They must have been walking on the streets of New York City about the same time.

I was not familiar with his poetry and might not have cared if I had read it by myself. And so this is what I learned about myself and poetry last night: I loved the community experience of poetry. We shared the poems with some 20 other people a good many of whom I did not know, but the poetry made this ‘not knowing’ irrelevant; better yet, it led to ‘knowing.’

When we arrived we had just read in the local newspaper that a friend of us had suddenly died in his early 60s. We read the notice too late to participate in a memorial service that was held practically around the corner. We were stunned and deeply saddened.  As we got ready to drive to the poetry evening we wondered, would poetry distract us? Would it soften the sharp edges of this realization that Tim would no longer be waving to us from across the cove? Leave his kayaks on our beach? Invite us to join him and his daughters as they were perched high on one of the Lobster Cove rocks on a summer evening at cocktail hour?

The poetry evening, the combination of the poems, our eminent poetry guide Paul and this community of poetry lovers, did distract us. Paul had done a fabulous job picking a few poems, wrote them in large letters on flipcharts and had us explore, feel, and even draw what we experienced. The poems were of the kind that I would have read and then shrugged my shoulders, thinking, what was that all about? But after hearing others share what they heard or saw, it was as if a door into the poem opened, revealing surprising vistas of meaning, associations, feelings.

I used to write poetry, dabbling I called it, but I stopped doing it a long time ago. I wrote them when I was feeling low, when things were not going well. This (this time, this poetry session) reminded me of the power of poetry and the power of being with others. I think I am going to write a poem about Trump: Dump Trump! Ha!

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