Where I’ve Been: Cheating On You With Another Blog: Everyday Magic, Day 533

Please forgive me. I’ve been writing on another blog behind your back this week, but truly, this blog means nothing to me compared to you! I was just using it for the words, and besides, I brought those words home to share with you.

The blog I’m guest-editing this week is the wonderful She Writes, a fabulous resource for women who write with lots of resources, tips, inspiration, practical notions and magical imaginings for anyone (not just women) who writes.

Here’s what I’ve been writing behind your back:

I’m also happy to feature Kansas writer Cheryl Unruh’s post, “The Journey,” a lively and moving account of how she went from a dream of a book to a book come true.

So come visit me at the lovely little b & b of www.SheWrites.com, and I promise to return home to you come the weekend, refreshed and ready to talk about something other than the writing life (such as the life worth writing about).

After the Storm, the Stars: Everyday Magic, Day 335

Another poem inspired by Stephen Locke’s photographs, this one taken after the tornadoes in Oklahoma last week.

After the Storm, the Stars

rise from the Osage Orange, wheeling effortlessly overhead as if

nothing has changed. They shine awake in the fresh open heart of the air,

cleansed free of all but the wind without end that lashes leaves against leaves.

Meanwhile, the rays of remnant clouds burn translucent, then invisible.

The exposed dirt ages in the wind. A slat from a child’s doll cradle grows into

the grass. Paper from two towns away lifts to ferry important words nowhere.

The sky exhales, waits, surges then drops to the disturbed ridge where flowers

rock upside, the rocks from elsewhere dream of the old days, and in the off and on

cadence of distant train whistles someone’s cries come staccaco to this night

wrapped in shimmer and quiet. Tomorrow, not so far from here, there will be

search dogs and careful lifting of sheetrock and broken furniture, then

bulldozers and power saws, rented U-hauls to save, then clear, whatever is left.

Months ahead to measure what was lost, articulate what the weather can do

in numbers and even more, read the brail of the stories left behind. The new world

not conjured arrives here anyway, and over this sprawling tree of life, the stars.

How Many Poets Laureate Does It Take To Screw In A Lightbulb?: Everyday Magic, Day 229

We’ll find out very soon because starting this weekend, the poets are coming: 20 poets laureate from Alabama to Alaska, and South Carolina to Colorado. As anyone who knows me surely knows by now, for better or worse, I’m the main organizer of Poet Laureati: A National Convergence of Poets Laureate, happening in my hometown of Lawrence, KS. Sun-Mon., March 13-14. For about a year, I’ve been churning out emails, fielding calls, building webpages and badgering all of my facebook friends about this event, all in an effort to make something out of nothing.

Ted Kooser, who is donating his time to read at our event. Thanks, Ted!

By nothing, I simply mean “no money,” and by something, I mean an event that has some kind of meaning for those of us reading, speaking, listening or hanging out within the swirl of readings, workshops, receptions and visits. We tried to find funding, but everywhere we looked, the cupboards were bare. So what was to be had to spun out of air, and spun out of air it was. Thanks to lots of local sponsors who donated making and distributing posters, featuring us on their websites, airing us on the radio (Thanks, K

PR!), sending us information to their members and customers, we succeeded thus far financially — meaning we raised enough $ to give the poets laureate coming at least a very small stipend to cover part of their travel expenses — and it looks like we’ll succeed when it comes to imagination, inspiration and invention.

Karla Morton, one of the state poets laureate coming. Guess what state.

We also ended up editing and having published (Thanks, Ice Cube Books!), an anthology — An Endless Skyway: Poetry from the State Poets Laureate of America, which will be launched at this event.

Now that it’s all upon me, it’s hard to believe that about a year ago, some of us Midwest poets laureate sat at a table at Tellers, conjuring up an event and a book, but also reminding ourselves that it might be too much to do both or either. Yet here it is: poetry on the hoof and wing, aiming itself toward Lawrence, and ready to land soon.

 

Two Links That Converge In My Heart

I want to share two links that seemingly may seem different — one is a poem about February — or more precisely, our little blizzard yesterday — published by the good people at The Kansas City Star who dropped me a line yesterday to ask if I might write something about our significant weather event.

The other is a link to an interview my boss, Ruth Farmer, gave to The Magazine of Yoga about real learning, the importance of skepticism and trusting the process, tinkering and leading, generic cialis shipping to canada progressive education, and what all we do at Goddard College in terms of holding the space for people to ask their most relevant questions and quest toward answers. See Part 1 here, and Part 2 here. (And learn more about Goddard here).

Finding our questions, quests and poetic ways of holding and seeing what life gives us echoes at the edge of what I know and don’t know, leading me into teaching and writing. And so, I share these connections with you — enjoy!

Why the Arts Matter: Everyday Magic, Day 181

The arts matter because when I felt all out of sorts this morning, my itunes suddenly started playing a beautiful Swedish waltz that brought me home to myself, calmed my frenzied mind and opened my heart.

The arts matter because the paintings of Paul Hotvedt, photographs of Jerry Sipe, paintings of Joan Foth and so much other visual art showed me how to see the earth and sky.

The arts matter because a child in a fifth grade class who didn’t think she was good at anything discovered one day that she was good at writing poetry, making me remember how I discovered the same thing when I was in tenth grade.

The arts matter because my friend rose from her chair at the dance symposium and started dancing to illustrate how dance belongs to all of us, showing us what it means to live in, to be a body with its own grace and beauty despite age and change.

The arts matter because an elder woman with her walker managed to get down the long hall and sit at the round table where, writing about her first kiss 60 years earlier, she rose above the pain she had felt lately, and lifted us with her.

The arts matter because an old friend just sent me a poem she wrote, the first in years, to convey the depth of feeling she had about what stories of her life are held in a specific old house.

The arts matter because Eileen Stewart, a self-appointed angel in New York’s Greenwich Village, cared enough about theater that she started LaMaMa theater, and then made costumes, promoted shows and even swept the stairs to bring us the likes of Sam Shepherd, Harvey Fierstein and many other theater greats.

The arts matter because a woman living out her last months with lung cancer could dress herself in something bright and come to a writing workshop, where she was able to put into words her life’s most precious stories for her family.

The arts matter because tonight I heard a young man stand up and read something he wrote that helped us all understand what mourning as a community means.

The arts matter because when it comes to learning to speak civilly with each other, shorten distances between polarized communities, and find a common vision, there’s no stronger bridge when the one made of art: a song, a painting, a shared experience mediated through the lens of the arts, gives us new language, courage and understanding of how to listen to each other.

The arts matter because tonight we sang our prayers for Friday night services, knowing what the Talmud affirms: singing way doubles the power of prayer.

The arts matter because the world in day or night, summer heat or winter ice, is so expansively mysterious and powerful that we need all the help we can get to open up our wide vision and see — through music, writing, art, dance, theater, and other arts — what it means to be alive.