The poet sits at her table to write. She must do so. She is compelled. Words lure her to the blank page like a beckoning lover. Sometimes the lover welcomes the meeting with complete attention. Other times the hoped for embrace disappears. Perhaps the meeting was a fantasy. Or the lover has a change of mind. No guarantees.

Jane Hirshfield summarizes the motivation of Basho, 16th C Japanese haiku master in her essay, “Heart of Haiku.” Basho says,”Speak for yourself, hear for yourself, and enter deeply enough this seeing and hearing, all things will speak with and through you….unless things are seen with fresh eyes, nothing is worth writing down.”

Make the writing yours. Feel its blood and breath. Your sweat and gruff.

Michael Rothenberg wants to see poets empowered. The world needs peace, social justice and environmental sustainability. So he writes poetry. He edits. He created the online journal Big Bridge. He collected thousands of poets worldwide to participate in 100 Thousand Poets for Change, the single largest poetry event ever. Poets from Durban S. Africa to Wilmington North Carolina voiced themselves beyond the scratch of paper. Did their poems make a difference?

Did you read a poem today or write one yourself?

Walk between stanzas. Light a candle of your imagination.

Access your truth, impermanence. Learn the shortcomings of language, its delicacy and muscle.

Kansas Poet Laureate Caryn Mirriam-Goldsberg is fighting for the continuation of the position. Governor Brownback line vetoed the post out of existence. Without it, Kansas is unable to solicit matching federal funds and among the few states without a government recognized poet. It’s only poetry…

Basho wrote at a time when linking verse (tankas) to fellow poets was as common a practice as playing cards, a game for verbal connecting and honing perceptions. He caught himself, however, using the poems to inflate his ego which went against his Zen principles. He stopped writing and asked his followers to go away. But then he resumed writing. Let a breeze carry his words away, he said. Impermanence.

Praise uselessness fruitfully. The unknowable disguises itself as known. Engage a flow of being. Paginate yourself.

Writing compels. You join a community of sound and sense, the spacing and chasing of words. They may mean what you say or they tell you something else. They inform. You write about the collapsed bridge, a duck feather near the pond, the imploring look of a hungry child, your derelict tongue. You write about your life, your desires and your consternation.

Nikky Finney was surprised to learn that her book Head Off & Split was nominated for the National Book Awards. The nomination suggests that in a country that seems more attentive to reality tv and celebrity infidelities, not Katrina injustices like that shown in her poem”Left,”someone is listening and poetry matters.

Syllables are portable. Ride along.

By the time you read this line, the breath that contributed to its making will have past, transmuted into other words or an as-yet-to-be determined form.

Journey, not destination. Taste, not calorie count.

I write because in assigning words to this fleeting of time, my body, speech, and mind momentarily intensifies. My pursuit of words is unquenchable.

Moon rise above roofs
Parked cars, dogs sniffing tires
Whose satisfaction

Leave your writing like rice on the porch for the taking by a neighbor or the wind. Or thrust it into someone’s hands.


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