Hi.

Welcome to
Transactions with Beauty.
Pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea and relax. 
Thanks for being here.
And remember, 
you are required to make something beautiful.

- Shawna

 

 

Summoning a Fierceness

Summoning a Fierceness

We've long known the following is true:

"It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there.”

- William Carlos Williams

We are all, or most of us, obsessed with the news these days. I can only hope that one day we'll look back on this year and the ones to follow and find there were bright spots. We will find there was astounding poetry being written. 

Kaveh Akbar began tweeting poems from the countries which were issued a travel ban a while back on his Twitter feed. Others are inspired by this and are sharing some amazing work. There is no doubt that poets from all over the world are right now creating some magnificent works of art.

I'm reminded of words by C.D. Wright published in early 2016 (and no doubt written earlier) in her book, The Poet, The Lion, Talking Pictures etc:

"Poets will have to summon a fierceness equal to the current environment. We will have to meet irrational force with savage insight. We will have to bring our own rudimentary technology, our own order, to the common weal."

She goes on:

"Poets will have to stop bemoaning poetry's lost station, while continuing to press its perceptions. That which we cannot speak of we can no longer pass over in silence. Mostly, poets will fail. The structures will fail. Words will fumble and fall. But in so failing and fumbling poets refuse to be accomplices."

But in so failing and fumbling poets refuse to be accomplices.
— C.D. Wright

We have always been living with the news, as W.S. Merwin says in the next poem:

Living with the News

W.S. Merwin

Can I get used to it day after day
a little at a time while the tide keeps
coming in faster the waves get bigger
building on each other breaking records
this is not the world that I remember
then comes the day when I open the box
that I remember packing with such care
and there is the face that I had known well
in little pieces staring up at me
it is not mentioned on the front pages
but somewhere far back near the real estate
among the things that happen every day
to someone who now happens to be me
and what can I do and who can tell me
then there is what the doctor comes to say
endless patience will never be enough
the only hope is to be the daylight

{from The New Yorker}

endless patience will never be enough
the only hope is to be the daylight
— W.S. Merwin

The good news is still relevant, maybe even more so, than ever. I keep going back to an interview I read in the New Yorker which came out a couple of years after 9-11. The poetry editor, Alice Quinn, is interviewing Deborah Garrison, a poet. The interviewer says, "I was struck by something I heard the poet Rosanna Warren say, that art is a formal question responding to a major provocation in reality. She spoke of the danger and pressure attached to that, but she said it’s the role of poets to state their experience as accurately as they can." And a bit later on Garrison says, "To read a love poem now feels equally important. Any scrap of human endeavor that had any joy in the making seems so meaningful."

The Good News

by Thich Nhat Hanh

They don’t publish
the good news.
The good news is published
by us.
We have a special edition every moment,
and we need you to read it.
The good news is that you are alive,
and the linden tree is still there,
standing firm in the harsh winter.
The good news is that you have wonderful eyes
to touch the blue sky.
The good news is that your child is there before you,
and your arms are available:
hugging is possible.
They only print what is wrong.
Look at each of our special editions.
We always offer the things that are not wrong.
We want you to benefit from them
and help protect them.
The dandelion is there by the sidewalk,
smiling its wondrous smile,
singing the song of eternity.
Listen! You have ears that can hear it.
Bow your head.
Listen to it.
Leave behind the world of sorrow
and preoccupation
and get free.
The latest good news
is that you can do it.

{from the anthology, Soul Food}

What I want to say, is don't forget to share the good news, too. The bad news isn't going away, and there will be fierce poems with savage insight penned in its wake. But don't forget to write the good things, too. Write poems about the long lead-up to spring, write poems about leaves clinging fiercely, write love poems, write love. 

Eleven Flower Quotations

Eleven Flower Quotations

Literary Loneliness, Loveliness

Literary Loneliness, Loveliness