We DO move too fast! What’s wrong with that, Professor B? The early bird gets the worm! Well, if we’re going sixty miles an hour and it’s all a blur, or we’re so overscheduled and stressed and harried we can’t see the gorgeous details, or the grand big picture, we forget what a glorious ride we’re on, on our planet, you know, our planet which is whirling and twirling so fast. . . or light, you know, 186,000 miles a second, it’s not just a good idea, it’s the law . . . but us . . . So let’s slow down for the Poetry Slow Down, I’m Professor Barbara Mossberg, thank you for joining me, and Producer Hal Ginsberg, as we let poetry beguile us, the Wolf to our clipboard carrying nervous nelly uptight upright Red Riding Hood selves, Wolf in a good way, wolf in the way that we use for a metaphor of primal gulping, as in wolfing something down, you’re hungry as a wolf for.. Wait, hold on, Dr. B, with all due respect, you’re saying we should slow down, but now you’re saying we should wolf down, and wolfing down something is to inhale it whole, not savoring it, so how can a poem wolf down, lure us, AND slow us down, maybe trip us up, allure us? Okay, Walt, help me out here, “do I contradict myself? Very well, then, contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes,” thank you Walt Whitman, in Song of Myself, as he tells us he is lying at the feet of the familiar, the low, considering leaves of grass, considering lilies of the field. So you know how I love to read for us Mary Oliver’s A Summer Day, how she is getting down in the grass eyeball to eyeball with a grasshopper, and Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, a child said, what is the grass, I loaf and invite my ease . . . I lie here, waiting for you . . . Walt in my mind is always lying down, a leaf of grass in his hand, idling, well . . . and I always say, slow down, you move too fast, well, so a confession here, the truth is, I move . . . pretty fast. There’s so much I want to do, I’m just running. So I fly across the country from lecturing on how interdisciplinarity fuels creativity, and I get to Los Angeles, for a program on creativity I’m getting ready for this weekend, and I have an article that has to be edited, a hundred urgent errands, my students are writing, my five email accounts are brimming with urgency and deadlines and it’s all pretty glorious, I’m in the saddle, I’m so busy that even though I’ve been up all night traveling, I don’t take a nap, I’ve got two computers going and two phones, and, our son is visiting and I give him my key, and he goes to Hollywood for some meetings, and I step out of the house and the door closes, and I realize it immediately: I’m locked out. Now normally I’d have my laptop with me, my ipad, my phone, my journal, a book, a message pad, I always have these things with me, so I can be productive, but no. So what do I do. I sit down on the grass. Then, I lay down on the grass. And I look up at the trees. I’m looking at palm trees. They are dripping with light! I’m looking at them: they have feathers, they are flying, they are shining, wet with light! They are waving at me, with green fingers, flirty, hello! I am thinking of W.S. Merwin, resurrecting palm trees on his Hawaiian ranch, his poem “Palms,” and I’m lying in the grass, thinking how to describe it, and then I’m gazing, amazed my fortune to be locked out, I just loaf, take my ease, I’m with Whitman, Oliver, Merwin, poems on the grass, in the grass, so we’re going to amble, ramble, swagger, as poets march to a music of their own making, with poetic feet: Linda Gregg’s “Let Birds” (we cannot get enough of this poem, and we’re going to make hay with it), we’re going to cultivate wildness, poetry, weeds, grass . . . honoring the sprouting idea that says I am a poem, working the psychic soil: Union Institute & University professor Joshua Butts, and we’ll hear Merwin, Oliver, Emily Dickinson, Richard Wilbur, William Stafford, Seamus Heaney, Robert Hass, and more . . . . all that we can learn from poets, when we’re locked out, lying in the grass and looking at the trees . . . thank you for joining me, at the Poetry Slow Down.
© Barbara Mossberg 2011