Keeping poetry in the world

Image by Mateusz Stachowski via stock.xchng
Image by Mateusz Stachowski via stock.xchng

I recently received the best birthday card EVER. The picture and store-bought sentiment was nice, but it was what my friend wrote on the inside that moved me: “…You have kept poetry in my world for many years, and my heart is grateful.”

Looking back on 2012, I breathe a sigh of deep gratitude that my little commitment to myself at the beginning of the year – to write about poetry on my blog – has translated by the end of same year to having “kept poetry in my world” for at least one dear other.

My motivation is self-serving. I need other people to play with words. My soul is fed by their art, and I am hungry. When poets (and those who love poetry) play, I am nourished.

So where to in 2013? As a glimpse, here are a few new bits I am looking forward to:

  1. Podcasts. Don’t ask me for specifics like frequency, length, topic, or how-to’s. I only know that I will be doing a podcast or two or more sometime in the next twelve months. For those of you who prefer listening to reading, this should be welcome news.
  2. All NINE muses. The muses inspire more than poetry. While we touched on music, comedy, and history briefly at one point or another this past year, I plan to bring in more of the other sisters in 2013.
  3. Special guests. As part of my perpetual effort to engage with a community of inspirational creative types, I will welcome new and diverse guests through their art, interviews, and reviews.
  4. New discussion format. The regular “Muses” will continue to delight with their fine posts on poetry and the meaning of life. The twist is there will be one poem each month they will all write about – instead of different poems each week – providing an opportunity for interaction, engagement, and deeper discussion of the art.

Here I launch the first such discussion on the poem “Happiness” by Jane Kenyon. This poem is a roller-coaster paean to happiness from the perspective of a manic-depressive. If I didn’t know this from my reading of Kenyon’s personal history, I would know it from the clues she drops throughout the poem like overly generous bread crumbs.

When I first read “Happiness” (the first five times, to be precise), I couldn’t figure out how such a finely crafted poem could leave me feeling so unsettled. I didn’t realize the ride I was on. From the manic “…happiness saved its most extreme forms for you alone” to the depressive wineglass “weary of holding wine,” the entire work is a roller coaster designed to make you feel (if not suffer) with the suffering poet.

Mainly I feel grateful, though, because I do not suffer such ups and downs regularly, and because each of the images Kenyon offers throughout is of such high quality, I am enriched by the reading.

I look forward with anticipatory delight to the contributions of the other Muses in my midst. I long to hear how Kenyon’s “Happiness” has affected their own happiness.

Let the musing begin!

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