Friday, August 11, 2017

Poetry Friday: Elsewhere, Elsewhat, Elsewho



No poem for you today, just this wonderful reminder about where poetry comes from in children (...and does it still, hopefully come from the same place in us as adults?)  I found it in poet Dean Young's intriguing book The Art of Recklessness and thought I would share it with you today.

I ask you as a poet, reader, to always remember your first urges, why you wrote your first poem.     Everyone is a wonderful poet up until the third grade. I saw it when I taught as a poet in the schools. The sublime coincides with the ridiculous, babble with referent, the witnessed phenomena with the combustion of name in song of dazzling appeal, of play. The alphabet presents itself as an unsolvable mystery to be frolicked in. Words themselves create reality through music and incantation: "One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish." The proligacies of rhyme, its irrationalities bring forth new realities. The world arises from naming, and naming itself is a product of hilarity, invention, fortuitous accident, the elsewhere and elsewhat and elsewho, the imagination. So too darkness, the sense of desertion, profound isolation, inadequacy, that you will never be loved enough no not ever, connect us to the primary wellsprings of poetry as children. Same as now. 

We all need a calm moment every so often to reflect on the primary sources of our poetic imaginations. I know it's been a difficult week, if you read the newspapers, to find calm moments. But we do our best, right?
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This week's Poetry Friday round-up is being hosted by Margaret over at Reflections on the Teche. Head over there to see what other people are sharing.

You can read my latest post at Books Around the Table here. And if you're in the mood to read my review of Megan Marshall's new biography of the poet Elizabeth Bishop, click here. 

24 comments:

  1. Wow wow wow printing this out posting it here there and everywhere. YES. (Also must be why I don't love 2nd like I loved K--by the end of 2nd they are already headed down the beaten path of language, taking to heart the admonitions not to wander into the forest collecting posies. Wolf, eat me now!)

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    1. "Wolf, eat me now!" I've put that on a Post-It, Heidi, and will keep it by my computer!

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  2. Love it, Julie. "The alphabet presents itself as an unsolvable mystery to be frolicked in." Thanks for spurring us to revisit our poetic imagination. (I looked up the book and saw that it is part of a series with intriguing names. Have you read any of the others?)

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    1. Tabatha, I have several books in that series and especially like The Art of Syntax by Ellen Bryant Voight and The Art of Description by Mark Doty.

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  3. My favorite: The alphabet presents itself as an unsolvable mystery to be frolicked in. The primary source of my poetic imagination -- love. Which sounds simple, but of course, isn't. Writing the poems shows me that ever time! So good to hear your voice on the blog today, Julie! I've missed you! xo

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    1. Thanks, Irene -I'm glad to be back thinking of poetry again - life got a bit pragmatic for awhile!

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  4. Wonderful quote--it reminds me how important nurturing poetic language and word frolic is, especially since I've moved from teaching 1st grade to teaching 4th. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Your students are lucky to have you if you care about poetry, Molly!

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  5. Wow! Such strong words and a powerful reminder to play with all that life offers and give into the hilarity of naming the world around us. We could all use more of this this week.

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    1. Yes, surrendering to hilarity - exactly!

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  6. I know it's true when I listen to my granddaughters (8 & 6) who create songs all the time, & when some kind of rhyme is needed, they simply make up a word that sounds good, giggle and go on. This is beautiful, Julie! The week was indeed rough, have been for a while!

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    1. Well, the week keeps getting worse, doesn't it. Grandkids are certainly a balm and a joy.

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  7. Oh, so, so true! It seems we must always head backward for a bit to go forward.

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    1. I've even had phases where the "forward" part didn't happen! :-)

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  8. As the world starts to make sense, we get judgmental with it. And poetry is sliced and diced into skeletal austerity. I like the fun and play to stay.

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    1. Brenda, I remember one New Year's Day a few years ago when my New YEar's resolution was to be less judgmental and more relaxed. I might try that again...

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  9. I'm stunned at how my Kindergarten writers embrace poetry creation with wreckless abandon! So sad to see it taper off in upper grades when students become picky and intimidated. Favorite line, which I'm going to post in my classroom -- "The alphabet presents itself as an unsolvable mystery to be frolicked in." YES! -- Christie @ https://wonderingandwondering.wordpress.com/

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    1. Being comfortable with mystery - I think kids are experts. And I do think mystery ( i.e. the ineffable) is where poetry comes from. That kids can use language to PLAY with Mystery is amazing.

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  10. This is rich, Julie! I was snagged by this line: "The world arises from naming, and naming itself is a product of hilarity, invention, fortuitous accident, the elsewhere and elsewhat and elsewho, the imagination."

    Someone this week spoke of getting inspiration from the moon, and asked what brought us poetic inspiration. I didn't respond there but the thought I had was "words." This expresses it better than I ever could: "naming."

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    1. I loved that line, too, Violet. Though I'm not religious in an organized-religion kind of way, I do love the fact that part of Genesis deals with the naming of things, in a kind of Isn't-it-amazing-God-got-it-right way, as if the objects themselves had true names and it's our job to find them. "Naming" - no wonder we love being poets, right?

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  11. To hold the child within us, and celebrate and encourage the young ones around us, what's more important to all of life and living. Thanks for reminding us of these fleeting parts of life through Dean Young's book "The Art of Recklessness," I would definitely like to read it!

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