I TOOK my power in my hand
And went against the world;
’T was not so much as David had,
But I was twice as bold.

I aimed my pebble, but myself
Was all the one that fell.
Was it Goliath was too large, Or only I too small?

(Emily Dickinson)

The poetry shoe of poetic feet in the headline news, late-breaking, fate-making, heart-breaking, heart-shaking, the news of “despised” and “difficult” poems “without which men die miserably every day” (Dr. William Carlos Williams). The news this week brings to the fore poetic language that challenges us to think more wisely—in terms of fairness, kindness, humanity. It’s not easy to think this way: Einstein calls for empathy and compassion, and it’s e=mc2, rocket science. Nor to speak up, out, for, against. To return to Dickinson, whom we don’t usually associate with putting herself out there in the public sphere, of course she did, boldly, altogether self-consciously, knowing what was at stake: committing oneself to words on paper is to enter the fray, engage with one’s times and all times, and add energy to the public discourse. It doesn’t always end well, at least in the short term. Dickinson herself, still unpublished and unknown, with no voice in her world, says,

They shut me up in Prose –
As when a little Girl
They put me in the Closet –

Continue reading

ANGELS AND TREES—and what song and story has to do with saving the earth

THE RADIO SHOE: Poetic footwork in the POETRY SLOW DOWN, with Professor Barbara Mossberg (“no place safe from poetry”), in which the news of poetry is a civic force of community building and health, and general happiness, and world peace, and this IS rocket science. So get your show shoes on, knock your socks off, and get a move on, those poetic feet slowing down (you know you move too fast!)for the news you need, the news you heed, the news “without which men die miserably every day” (Dr. William Carlos Williams, who should know). We’re talking about heroes of the earth today, and what angels and poets have to do with it.

Continue reading