Although I’ve always loved poetry, for most of my adult life prose dominated my reading and writing. It was difficult to find the mental and emotional space to let poetry in. Once I retired from full-time work, I made it a point to revisit poetry and explore it as a reader and a writer.
We poets are at all levels, from awesomely accomplished to beginner. I am somewhere in the middle.
I must have been sending out messages to the universe, because a friend connected me with one of her poet friends, which led me to the Cupertino (California) Poetry Circle. The city has a wonderful poetic arts program and a poet laureate who gives workshops. Our group meets monthly to read poems, ours and others. We poets are at all levels, from awesomely accomplished to beginner. I am somewhere in the middle.
Poetry is allowing me to turn off the inner critic (for a while, anyway) and let creativity flow from my right brain. I can use language outside the realm of what’s permitted in technical and scientific writing. Perhaps most important, poetry offers me a respite from the small worries (too many bills this month) to the existential angst (will we destroy the planet?). As an English major, I love Shakespeare, Blake, Yeats, and a host of others, but recently I’ve begun to read and appreciate more contemporary voices, such as Jane Kenyon, Donald Hall, and Wendell Berry. I tend to be a worrier, and to defuse that emotion, the following is my favorite go-to poem:
The Peace of Wild Things, by Wendell Berry
When despair grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
Currently I am refining two poems to submit to a local anthology to stick my toe in the water of poetry publishing. They are too long to include here, but I do have an older one that’s actually a set of Haikus. Enjoy.
At Grinding Rock State Park
Ghosts of the Miwok—
Grinding rock yields acorn meal;
From black oak, the prize
Dearer than the blackberries,
Once rinsed to sweetness.
Sugar pines against the sky.
Woven from willow,
In that world without a wheel,
Baskets held water.
I have recently retired from a marketing and technical writing and editing career and am thoroughly enjoying writing for myself and others.