Why this?

The occasional poem of my own and a generous helping of work by others that I find inspiring. Site is named for a beloved book by one of my favorite writers, Italo Calvino, whose fanciful work lights--and delights--my soul.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Unpacking the Boxes

Eventually, I no longer demanded that my poems explain themselves before they got written; I learned to trust the impetus, to ride the wave. The wave was feeling, expressed largely in long vowels. I worked by accepting an image compelled by rhythm and sound--without requiring that it explain its purpose.

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Everyone who loves teaching has the same experience: Someone asks a question; it's something you never thought of, but the moment you hear the question you know that answer. Ninety percent of what you say is something you didn't know until you said it. ... I taught best when I did not prepare a lecture but trusted the flow of the moment. I read aloud to the students with excitement, and improvised explanations for my pleasure. I counted on my passion for the work, stimulated by the presence of the listening faces in front of me. Then I answered questions. If once in two years the enthusiasm did not flow, I would cancel class. My gift to students was not information but demonstration of engagement.

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Eventually, the writing is not only for the writer's sake. A poem is nothing if it is not beautiful, a work of art that please the senses and resolves manyness into a whole shape. But a poem may be soul-comfort as well as body-comfort. ... The beauty of art is not only a first (albeit ineluctable) requirement. Poems may comfort the afflicted--by their beauty of sound, by humor, by intelligence or wisdom, by the pleasures of resolution, by exact rendering of emotion, and by the embrace of common feeling.

--Donald Hall, Unpacking the Boxes

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