A Poetry Civilian

April is Poetry Month. It is all-poetry-all-the-time. It is giveaways and book swaps and a poem a day. It is poetry bootcamp, sir yes sir!

For the last two years of Poetry Month, I have bolted awake at "Reveille," and made my bed tight enough to bounce a quarter on. I have laced up my boots for morning drills. I have scrubbed the floor of a blank page with a toothbrush, sir yes sir!

I briefly considered re-enlisting this year as March waned toward April. I confess, part of me is attracted by the discipline of boot camp. But as it happens, this year for Poetry Month, I am choosing the civilian life.

This does not mean no poetry, no sir. It means poetry, civilian style. It means sleeping if I need to sleep, trusting that the waking hours will expand into that elusive Time To Write. It means maybe writing a poem a day or maybe not, probably not, doesn't matter. It means reading poems without making a surveillance map of them, without doing surgery on the battlefield. It means reading poems and falling into their music, their magic. It means not thinking, (insert throat-clearing here) "In this poem, the poet relies on facts about the solar system to state a political position. She uses the lyric-I sporadically to create moments of unexpected intimacy for the reader." It means, instead, thinking, (insert sigh here) "Wow, this poem feels like falling into an abyss and something catching you, saving you last minute." It means reading for pure enjoyment, for beauty, for rapture, for joy.

I choose to be a poetry civilian partly because of the way my life is playing out this Wing (Wing is a new season: it means the winter that lasts forever and takes over spring). This Wing in South-of-the-River, someone has been sick in this house every.single.day since January (we are now on day four of everyone being well -- knock on wood). This Wing has seen business trip after business trip after business trip for the one known as Husband. This Wing has found me working through a little flare of my arthritis symptoms. The bottom line, Reader, is that I'm tired. Dear "Reveille," stick that in your bugle and blow it.

But I'm also choosing the civilian life for another, maybe more important, reason. I think it's really important to remember that artists don't create art for us to dissect it, analyze it, criticize it. Artists create art to transport, transform, connect, and inspire us, and to beautify this world. It's easy for me to get my nose too close to the page, one hand ever on my scalpel. For Poetry Month, I'm taking a deep breath and a step back. Gonna put the scalpel down and sink down into a comfy chair. Gonna be transported, transformed, inspired, enraptured. Perhaps you'd like to grab a book of poems and join me.

Happy Poetry Month from me to you.


drew said...

"It means reading poems without making a surveillance map of them, without doing surgery on the battlefield."

Yes, exactly. Well said. I am with you this month, strolling, not marching, through poetry's beauty.

Gerry said...

I remember a poetry reading by Yusef Komunyakaa over at Interlochen, the audience filled with academic poets and writers of all stripes . . . and I remember a transcendant moment where one crystal note sounded at the end of a line and a communal sigh released. You can analyze that to death or you can just be there. Being there is better.

Sandy Longhorn said...

I love everything you say here. Just beautifully written and so true.

Hope the health holds and the spring arrives.

Molly said...

Drew, enjoy the stroll. Glad to know I'll not be alone.

Gerry, I like your maxim for poetry and life: being there *is* better. And hooray for Interlochen(!).

Sandy, thanks - glad you enjoyed the post.

Thanks for reading everyone. Now I'm off to tend to my sick boy. Yes, really. :)