PRACTICING RESURRECTION – I who have died am alive again today—e.e. Cummings

Ears of our ears are opened! Thank you mr. e. e. cummings, you ARE indeed alive again today and so are we,—slowing down for our Poetry Slow Down, I am your host Professor Barbara Mossberg, alive again today, on the theme of resurrection—life rising again—when it was thought it was over—done with—gone for good—or bad—hopeless—and up springs against all the odds and expectations, life! The title of our show today Practicing Resurrection is from a line by a farmer poet, Wendell Berry, in his Manifesto: Mad Farmer’s Liberation Front poem, where he gives us advice, concluding with, “practice resurrection.” I’ve been writing at my parents’ 100 year old house with pond and trees and bushes and flowers that our son is trying to honor by keeping them alive, and what we thought truly was nevermore, I mean, that we were sure was really really dead, no signs of life at all, pathetic dried twigs, brown drowned leaves, are furled bright green leaves and fruit and blossom and lily pads, no, you were done for, how, how now? How has this miracle happened, what is the meaning for us in these ways of resurrection? Continue reading

CONTINUAL CHEERFULNESS IS A SIGN OF WISDOM – Irish Proverb: The Luck of the Irish, Cheshire Cat Magnetic Belts, Persian New Year, Ides of March, and Other News in Poetry

We will begin with news on the topic of wisdom and the struggle to make a life of meaning and purpose and solace AND cheer—enduring —which will take us to some great poems on what and how to make of our moments, so let’s slow down, get our cheery game faces on for . . .

“Continual cheerfulness is a sign of wisdom.”

© Dr. Barbara Mossberg


William and Kim Stafford, Emily Dickinson, Derek Walcott, Jorie Graham, Leigh Hunt, Elizabeth Bishop, Luis Montero, David Wright, Gerald Stern, Judith Viorst, Philip Larkin, Seneca, Rumi, Hafiz, Stephen Grellett, C. K. Williams, Eleanor Lerman, Mark Doty, Hilarie Jones, Marilyn Nelson, Chuck Tripi, and more Continue reading


Just to be held by the ocean 
is the best luck we could have.
It is a total waking up.

Why should we grieve that we have been sleeping?
It does not matter how long we have been unconscious.

We are groggy, but let the guilt go.
Feel the motions of tenderness around you,
 the buoyancy.–Rumi


Lovers of splash and dash, panache and get-go! Poetry on pools and splash, swimming and mermaids, in support of the project to restore a lifesaving community swimming pool of yore, giving new life to civic optimism that what we once had is not lost: we can recover and restore beauty and use, what is vibrant poetry in our life. Poets dive in to this subject from Rumi, T.S. Eliot, Emily Dickinson, to Leigh Hunt, Matthea, Robert Creeley, Charles Tripi, Tada Chimako, Mary Oliver, Wendell Berry, Kim Addonizio, Lord Byron, Mao Tse Tung, Yeats, Linda Gregg, Shakespeare, Robert Creeley, Robert Hicok, Robert Frost, Maxine Kumin, May Swenson, H.D., Swinburne, Mbali Vilakazi, Tennyson, Walter De La Mare, Mary Lee, Adam Lindsay Gordon, Gerald Stern, Billy Collins, and philosophy of Willard Spiegelman (quoting Tomlinson, Paul Valery, Annette Kellerman, John Nabor, Melchisedek Thevenot, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Oliver Sacks), and me, Barbara Mossberg. And that’s just wading in to the sea of poems and poets on the topic of water immersion. We consider a theory of J. Alfred Prufrock through the lens of mermaid and immersion metaphysics: his identity angst is the plight of the merman . . . . Jump in—it’s not cold but coooool— and we’ll see what all the splashing is about on think for yourself talk radio news, the news we need at the heart of the heart-breaking, earth-shaking, headline news, heartline news.

Swimming! Pools! Immersing ourselves in water! Our inner fish! Even mermaids! But—um– Dr. B, with all due respect, noted, thank you, you kind minds here in this community of ours, it is only March . . . why are we talking about pools and swimming! I’m still in my long underwear! Ah, well that you should ask! Well, second of all, we just heard the Academy Awards, the Oscar going to “Life of Pi,” based on Yann Martel’s lyric novel about a boy named for a swimming pool, one his father just loved, so he named his son Piscine which meant that the son was actually called by his school mates pissing, and he changed his name to Pi, as in the number–so that’s poetry in the news, but in the first place, in the evolved City of Pacific Grove, where I actually live in something called Poet’s Perch, a Victorian-era house, there is a movement by our city leaders to bring back to life a feature of this community that like all of ours around the country has seen better days. The hopes and dreams and visions and unbelievable work of our founders of our cities and towns: when they deteriorate over time, deep in our citizen morale is the wish to restore them. There was once a swimming pool right on the sand there, where children and everyone could swim. It was public. There was splash and shining water and that amazing experience of buoyancy, of our bodies like clouds in the sky, now, only silence, an abandoned empty hole in the earth. The pool, the heart of the matter where we re-enact our human evolution as we came from the seas. Should we just let it go, and despair? Or should we read poetry and inspire ourselves to dare, to dream, to believe in each other and our civic spirit, what is in us to rise again: come, my friends, tis not too late to seek a newer world, or in this case, an older world where there was time, to build lasting things of beauty and use, for the good of it . . . . So with volunteers and City Staff, Don Mothershead, who works on behalf of  children in sports, and all the facilities, has headed up this project of optimism, to restore the pool, Be A Lifesaver, Save Our Pool! Is the anthem, and bring back to the city life a way to come together at the water hole for exercise and fun, not a country club, but where everyone can come, a Walt Whitmany democratic idea and children can learn to swim, and it’s just such a good idea. But it needed money. Who has money in these days? Well, money has been raised so far, in this community, and now there is matching grant, so that the pool can actually be restored by this summer! So now it’s Spring, and our Poetry Slow Down will celebrate the poetry of pools and swimming and mermaids and buoyancy, OH BOY!. If you wish to take the plunge to find out more about it, see below. But meanwhile, this pool is filled already in our minds, so we can dive in, and we’ll hear what’s at stake in people’s access to being in water . . . We’ll get our feet wet, poetically speaking . . . . exploring just what it is about being in water, moving about in this way, that is as ancient as our species, and recreates our experience in the womb, yes, lolling about in the waters, our mothers’ bellies, our first pool.

As we explore our human desire to recreate our fish experience, we have always had a fellow feeling somehow about the denizens of water, where perhaps we did once live and breathe, when we were fish, speaking evolutionarily, here is a poem by Leigh Hunt, pal to Byron and Keats, engaging the human-fish reality of our being . . .

I enjoyed researching this show tremendously. My script was over 100 pages and just scratched the surface. There is more to say . . . but this gets our feet wet, and we hear a little about what’s at stake, what’s possible, when people have the chance to be immersed in water . . . .

Thank you for joining me. Please write me, and check out the Pacific Grove pool project. Stay tuned for poems written by people who are once again swimming . . . .

© Barbara Mossberg 2013