ISSUE 5

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PLAY ON WORDS

So what does all this poetry stuff have to do with FLOW?

I guess the point is that I am becoming less and less of a passive spectator and more of an active participator in life as I pursue my authentic interests. One of those interests is poetry. I’ve always loved reading and writing poetry. Incidentally, April was national poetry month. I hadn’t realized it at the time, but I had unintentionally clustered a few activities around poetry. I started experimenting with found poetry, I checked out a book of children’s poems from the library for Evan which we have both thoroughly enjoyed reading over and over again, and I read a book about Emily Dickinson that, I suppose, could be classified as biographical fiction. The author spent a decade researching the poet and then wrote this book from the first person in the voice of Emily Dickinson. It was one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read in a long time. I seldom read for pure pleasure. Usually, I’m more drawn to some sort of self-help or spiritual formation book which requires a lot of mental focus and taking notes and such. I recently checked out a few more books about Emily Dickinson including her biography, her letters, and her poetry and I’m really enjoying expanding my knowledge about the poet and her work.

Some delightful discoveries about Dickinson:

– She would write her poems-in-progress on scraps of paper while she attended to her domestic duties, slipping them in her apron until she could craft the final drafts alone in her room, often late into the night.

– Although she craved solitude and actually became somewhat of a recluse in her later years, she had a playful side which showed itself in gestures such as lowering gingerbread in a basket from her second story bedroom window to children down below, sending a poem or note and a flower on a tray to visitors downstairs whom she didn’t want to offend by declining to see them during their visit.

– She wore white everyday as opposed to the dark, somber colors of her contemporaries.

Learning about the poet makes the experience of reading her poetry so much richer and fuller. Also, after reading her biography, I feel a certain kinship to Dickinson…in her need for solitude, her struggle to balance the domestic and creative life, her melancholy spirit, her need to stay connected with friends and family, her creative kindnesses, her love of words, her thirst for learning.

Here’s one of her poems that I especially like:

I felt a Cleaving in my Mind-
As if my Brain had split-
I tried to match it-Seam by Seam-
But could not make them fit.

The thought behind, I strove to join
Unto the thought before-
But Sequence ravelled out of Sound
Like Balls-upon a Floor.


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