One of the blessings of the past year has been the opportunity to participate in poetry classes via Zoom. One of these was a 6-part series called Poetry of Resilience that was hosted by James Crews and Danusha Lameris. I have become very fond of them as poets, thinkers, and teachers.
This week I have been thinking about my experiences with poem writing. I am a novice, at best, but with each poem I write, I gain a little confidence. Poetry is something that is a private practice to me. I read and write it mostly by myself, and haven’t shared my poems very widely. I’ve never had a desire to be published, or to enter a contest, but I’m happy to have this small space in the universe to try out a few thoughts.
We’ve been hearing of the return of our 17-year cicadas for weeks. Doug Kammerer, NBC meteorologist, has been giving updates daily for the last few weeks. Today was to be the day where we would really begin to see them.
My son, Tim, was 7 when he first fell in love with the odd, clumsy, red-eyed cicada. He collected their exoskeletons which are left as they molt and played with them. I don’t remember the details of that play, but it was such that he was excited when they came again when he was 24. Now he has a 7-year old himself, and the cycle begins again. A new generation of boy, and a new generation of bug.
Whether you are freaked out by cicadas or not, there is something comforting in knowing that nature continues to do its job, and yes, the cicadas arrived right on time.
On May 5, 2021, Tim posted the first pictures of emerging cicadas. His caption read, “I’ve been waiting for you.” He meant it in the most gentle way, finding nothing sinister in this unique creature.
I may have more to say later this summer when the incessant sounds of cicadas preparing to mate and lay new eggs become intense. But until then, I’m willing to let them be.
Recently, I read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert which contains thoughts about the creative process, writers, writing, and challenges to the creative life. I never finished Eat, Pray, Love, but I really liked Big Magic.
She wrote about the importance of finding our own voices and expressing ourselves. The term “creative outlet” was used often. I got to thinking about creative outlets in my life such as playing the piano, writing, and dabbling I’ve done with painting and other arts over the years. These experiences help me in the moment to feel present and even happy. They do give me an opportunity to share something of myself.
As I thought, I decided that “creative inlets” are just as important to me. Just as inlets of water provide the right set of conditions for certain ecosystems, creative inlets provide the right set of conditions for ideas to grow, for healing to happen, and for beauty to refresh the soul.
I realized that I need to pay more attention to inlets. What am I inviting and allowing to flow inward to nourish my creative ecosystem? The world is sometimes harsh and the news brutal, but nature teaches us about seasons, ebbs and flows, and surprises us over and over with beauty. I think I need more time outside.
I’m taking a short course with Georgia Heard on poetic forms. Last night we talked about forms of poetry that are created by borrowing words from other writers. Some in the class said they felt like they were cheating by borrowing, but I found it really fun and stimulating. T.S. Eliot said, “Good writers borrow; great writers steal.” I didn’t know that he borrowed heavily from other writers when he wrote “The Wasteland.”
For my practice, I turned to one of my new favorite books, WORLD OF WONDERS, by Aimee Nezhukumatathil. Her writing about natural phenomena is gorgeous. I was sure I would find words to borrow there.
Here is my FOUND POEM after “Firefly” in WORLD OF WONDERS:
The first glimmer-pop of firefly light, electric dress, a small flame sputtering erratic flashes of light through the navy blue pause just moments after twilight.
Such a degree of tenderness the quiet reassurance their light rhythm recalibrates sending out their love-light signals a lime glow to the summer night air.