2015... it's here, right on time.
Are you ready?
In my absence over the last few weeks, I've had some time to think about my goals for 2015 and the "one little word" that I would like to accompany me on this year's journey.
Sometimes when life gets crazy, it takes more than one word to keep me focused and headed in the right direction. At these times, I turn to Mentors for Rent as my compass. Laura Purdie Salas and Lisa Bullard are my "combobulators" when I'm feeling discombobulated. Their understanding of my situation is always spot on and their career guidance has been invaluable.
One thing they've suggested I think about is how I want others to view me as a poet and writer. What overriding quality do I want readers to associate with my work? The essence of my voice, one might say. I like to think of it as my heartbeat– the quiet, steady pulse of creativity that beats underneath all those layers of distraction.
To be honest, I've thought about this a lot and pretty much have no clue. I can find that essence in others, but it's much harder to pinpoint in myself. Take Donna Smith, for example. As part of Tabatha Yeatts' Winter Poetry Swap, I received this original poem and gorgeous bookmark, harvested from treasures Donna found at the ocean's edge.
She describes the form of her poem as follows:
"I have written a Renga, meaning "linked verse," though technically, you need two people to write a Renga. It predates and is related to the Haiku. The beginning three lines have the 5-7-5 pattern of syllables followed by two lines of 7 syllables each. The first three lines are the "Hokku," and are what we now call a Haiku. One person started the Hokku, and the second two lines were traditionally supplied by another person as a response to the Hokku. I added the rhyming. It is not an element of a Renga. A true Renga is quite complex in its format requirements, but I have simply focused on one subject and the traditional syllable counts for my Renga."
|Donna writes, "I have always been |
curious about the stories behind
each treasure I find at the ocean.
Where did it come from? How did it
come to be here in my hand? How
will its story continue now that I
have become a part of the journey?"
edges now smooth-worn, once keen
etched with words unseen
traveling long miles and years
losing shards and shedding tears
gritty sand, slipping,
shattering, scraping, chipping–
from dark reigning ocean's hold
light of day becoming bold
washed ashore from sea
untold cold hidden story
from rough to rounded glory
cupped in hands today
fingers gently smooth away
carved of sea in curve of hand
rescued slave of salt and sand
discerning eyes peer
held to sun, or drawn in near
story still unclear
abandoned, useless, broken
or lost and well-loved token?
vagabond of yore
jetsam strewn on ocean floor
beached, this journey o'er
returned, rekindling pleasure
as worn and well-turned treasure
by Donna JT Smith, December 2014
I cannot think of Donna without thinking of her beloved coastal home. For me, the two are intertwined. Of course there's much more to Donna. I think about her love of family and her grandson. I think about the clever ways she adapts and creates new poetry forms. But what really sticks with me is her experience of "home."
There are so many moods of me, I'm not sure what people would say is the overriding quality of my work– that elusive heartbeat. I do know I would like spend some time nurturing my self-awareness. That's why I've chosen "heartbeat" as my one little word for 2015. By the end of this year, I hope to be a better listener.
It's good to be back, and I look forward to sharing my spotlight interview with Joyce Sidman next week. In the meantime, please join Tricia Stohr-Hunt for the Poetry Friday roundup at The Miss Rumphius Effect.