Wednesday, July 9, 2008


I suspect that almost anyone who writes poetry long enough has encountered one. It’s the poet whose works you cherish above the rest, whose poetry to you is beyond a mere favorite; also beyond inspiration, beyond affinity and admiration. This will be the one poet who so exactly and eloquently (even forcefully) captures what you feel so deeply, what you are trying to say, that it creates an actual physical sensation inside. S/he is the one poet who could almost make you stop writing poetry altogether, because…what could you possibly add to such perfection? What could be the point of writing at all in the face of all (fanning the pages) these?

This can be the dark night of a poet’s soul, even if it lasts as briefly as it takes to read a half-dozen pages. But it is the “almost” that will be the saving grace. You almost stop. There could be a point after all, but you will never learn it if you quit poetry. So you put your pen or pencil to paper, your fingers to the keyboard, whatever. And trust that as you keep working, in your voice, from your experience, in your time, you may one day write a poem that your perfect poet might wish she or he had written.

I want to be where
your bare foot walks,

because maybe before you step
you’ll look at the ground.
I want that blessing.

Poem by Rumi, from the book “Birdsong”, translated by Coleman Barks
Photo of dervishes from Wikimedia Commons

No comments: