I shall grow old but never lose life’s zest, Because the road’s last turn will be the best.
—Henry Van Dyke
“THE DIFFERENCE MADE ME BOLD:” CELEBRATING A POET’S LIFE OF SERVICE, IN HONOR OF DICKINSON’S 182 BIRTHDAY . . . THE MEANING SHARING ONE’S LIFE CAN MAKE TO THE SPIRIT WITH WHICH WE EACH GO FORTH BOLDLY WHERE NO ONE HAS BEEN BEFORE, I.E., EACH OF OUR OWN AGING, WITH MAY SARTON, RUTH STONE, TILLIE OLSEN, WENDY BARKER, ALICIA OSTRIKER, SANDRA GILBERT, LINDA GREGG, LUCLILLE CLIFTON, DEB CASEY, SHIRA DENTZ, BARBARA MOSSBERG, AND NOT ONLY FEISTY LADIES INCLUDING SPHINX AND HOMERIC HYMNS (WAS HOMER PARTLY OR ALL WOMAN TEAM?) BUT THE GUYS, PALLADAN, DANTE, ELIOT, MIGUEL DE UNAMUNO, WILLIAM (AND SHOUT OUT TO KIM) STAFFORD, GOETHE, RILKE, GERALD STERN, STANLEY KUNITZ, DONALD HALL, W.S. MERWIN, JAMES WRIGHT, C.K. WILLIAMS, WALT WHITMAN, CHARLES GIBILTERRA, AND CHARLES TRIPI, WITH SPECIAL TRIBUTES TO RECENT PUBLICATIONS BY JACK GILBERT AND LAWRENCE FERLINGHETTI
Well, this topic which started modestly with commemorating Emily Dickinson’s birthday-with the miraculous improbable that she’s a celebrity, what an oxymoron, a famous Nobody–I’m nobody, who are you, she said–and she’s a rock star 150 years later, so shy she wouldn’t admit friends and family into her room, they had to sit outside and talk to her with the door ajar, a doctor had to stand in the doorway to make a diagnosis while she stands fully dressed, she doesn’t leave her room, flees at regular human interaction, YET she’s holding her own as a worldwide icon of swagger and dash—she identifies with buccaneers, making bold insurgencies, undresses herself with her words–“bold” was her word for what she was doing as a poet that could make her immortal and celebrated by us here. So in tribute to Dickinson’s overcoming her isolation and fears of social invisibility and loss, her bold foray and insurgency in language, we hear poets as our Virgils guiding us on our aging journey, no matter what our age, who encouage us like Startrek’s United Space Ship Enterprise to go boldly where no one has gone before. We can read these poems like a magic mirror, to be encouraged and take heart, about our own unique life journeys, in company with poets. There were so many poems and poets and ideas here about what Bill McKibben subtitles Thoreau’s Walden, Bold-Faced Ideas For Living a Truly Transcendent Life, that we will continue the show December 30, 2012, just in time for inspiration for New Years Resolutions.
DECEMBER 23, 2012
Next week, we will slow down for a show on trees, and the role poetry and music have played in legislation that saves the earth, in the news these days in countless communities, how and why to save trees, and possibly including the debut of composer Brian Barrale’s music for Trees!–the drama musical in progress I am workshopping with schools (it was the concert verson for John Muir High School’s Springfest 2011 produced by Keleen Lewcewich), in honor of the manuscript John Muir brought to his deathbed Decemer 24, 1914, writing poetry about this world of ours so movingly . . . stay tuned for TREES: SONG AND DANCE, and you know you’re going to hear great poetry when we slow down.
And speaking of the poet’s saving vision, please send me your poems of Laddie’s Last Ride, Laddie Delaplane, dying at 89, quoted in Carl Nolte’s San Francisco Chronicle article, “in lieu of a traditional memorial service I would like my picture paraded around in an open car in Chinatown and North Beach preceded by the traditional brass band and followed by a banquet for my family and friends in a Chinese restaurant to celebrate my life.” In response to this bold vision, we hear, “It does not appear that she will get her last wish. Plans for a conventional memorial are pending. Her ashes will be buried at Forest Lawn. . . .” I love the spirit of joie de vivre, panache, elan, of Laddie, and so Poetry Slow Down community, we have to step in here and send her off, make this vision live in poetry. Please send your poems to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or respond to Poetry Slow Down at my facebook, or respond right here! We can give her a bold poetic send off right here, brass band and all, and we can sing her to her rest . . . .
© Barbara Mossberg 2012