Thursday, April 6, 2017

Just wondering! #NPM17

Have you ever written a fan letter? I haven't, or, at least if I have, I don't remember doing it. I have, however, met some of the writers I've enjoyed and admired. One was about the nicest person I've ever met. Another was wearing his curmudgeon coat the day I met him. I've also enjoyed getting to know (thanks to the Better Half) a singer / song writer or so. Underneath writerly exteriors, they're humans, kind of like the rest of us.

All of the preceding is lead in to the sixth way to celebrate National Poetry Month: "Encourage a young person to participate in the Dear Poet project." Although she isn't, to my knowledge, officially recognized as a poet, Rachel Carson has written a wonderful book that fits nicely with "Dear Poet." Carson's book is titled The Sense of Wonder. A magazine article version can be found here. (Please follow the link and at least check the photos on pages 3 and 4.) Poets somehow manage to keep a sense of wonder throughout their lives, and embed it, one way or another, in their poetry. Sometimes it's wondering about the incredible existence of us and the rest of the universe. Others it's wondering about our frightening capacity for cruelty and stupidity, especially in light of the fact that we and the universe do exist. As Jane Kenyon has written, "It might have been otherwise."

"remember the sky you were born under, ...remember the moon"
"remember the sky you were born under, ...remember the moon"
Photo by J. Harrington

I haven't read all of the poets, or poems, listed on the Dear Poet page, but I'm partial to Jane Hirshfield's poem or the one by Juan Felipe Herrera. If you're reading this and you're not in grades 5 through 12, find someone who is and walk them through the poem and letter. If you are in grades 5 through 12, and you're reading this, find an adult to help learn to enjoy poetry and life with a sense of wonder. It's hard to hang onto.

Joy Harjo's poems often not only convey a sense of wonder, but also help create one. Here's an example:


Remember the sky that you were born under,
know each of the star’s stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is.
Remember the sun’s birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. Remember sundown
and the giving away to night.
Remember your birth, how your mother struggled
to give you form and breath. You are evidence of
her life, and her mother’s, and hers.
Remember your father. He is your life, also.
Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth.
Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their
tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,
listen to them. They are alive poems.
Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the
origin of this universe.
Remember you are all people and all people
are you.
Remember you are this universe and this
universe is you.
Remember all is in motion, is growing, is you.
Remember language comes from this.
Remember the dance language is, that life is.

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Please be kind to each other while you can.