For any of us who watched the insurrection of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. last week, the words of Amanda Gorman, the inaugural poet, rings true. This poem was, ultimately, optimistic, portending a better future. Poetry can speak to us like nothing else when times are dark.
I wrote a collection of poetry after my partner died of Alzheimer’s Disease. It was a very dark time in my life. My partner, a brilliant mathematician, deteriorated quickly, leaving me in darkness. The writing of the poetry helped me to process what happened. I have been working on Touch My Head Softly with my publisher, Finishing Line Press, to finish the process. It has given me purpose through the pandemic.
Culture is a fuzzy term. Some cultures just have speech, no writing. Language affects the way we write. Some writers are multilingual, and that’s a definite advantage. Speech is flexible and can be used in particular ways in a cultural setting. We speak naturally in many diverse backgrounds as babies, from the playground, to school, to home. Writing can also be a misery for a child in school who hasn’t mastered the rules.Writing is where we must be precise. Speech is where we get to be imprecise, to play.
Imagine, as writers, playing with our words the way we play with speech. We can make magical words in our writing. Witness the incantation to open the caves entrance in Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings. Gabriel García Márquez made frog kings.
So how do we make magical writing in our culture? I’m not sure. Does anyone want to answer this question, just reply to my blog.
My latest collection of poems, Touch Ny Head Softly, will be out soon from Finishing Line Press.
Duck Lake Books is publishing tomorrow a wonderful new book by Cheryl J. Fish, Crater & Tower.
In 2010, Fish attended the Pulse Gathering of Scientists at Mount St. Helen’s Volcanic National Monument where in 1980 the crater erupted blowing more than 1,000 feetfrom the mountain top.
This accomplished poet and scholar, having witnessed the terrifying events of September 11, 2001 from a few blocks away as a resident and professor at a nearby community college, melded the “smoke and ash at both places, fragments of bone and rock,shock and death” (1) into the poems in Crater & Tower.