THE POETRY SLOW DOWN
Dr. Barbara Mossberg
Produced by Sara Hughes
December 7, 2014
© Barbara Mossberg 2014“ink is dripping from the corners of my lips/there is no happiness like mine/I have been eating poetry”—Mark Strand, 1934-2014
Everything is so huge this morning. The news of wars, the image of people starving, and cold, and ill, and hurt, and frightened, and angry, and lost, and feeling alone and abandoned, crime, also, people hurt and ill, all of this, all of whom we as a society have failed, and the news of symphonies, of vibrations that make the earth, all the way it goes and grows, and which we are part of, feel that we are in this together, nurtured, and heard. I am so small, in this. All of this. And then there is the chickadee outside the window just now, in the tree whose name I cannot remember at this moment—dark green leaves, pink blossoms in the spring. This chickadee, its round arcs perfectly defined, its specific lines, its colors, its way of being this moment on the twig.
My little chickadees! Hello! This is your Professor Barbara Mossberg and I’m greeting you this dark December day, one of the shortest and darkest of the whole year, with the sound of a chickadee, on Radiomonterey.com, podcast at BarbaraMossberg.com, Produced by Sara Hughes, and it was my intention today to bring us news of encouragement via poetry, the all-time encourager for all dark times when we are lost in the middle of the woods in the middle of our lives as in Dante’s Inferno. . . with the likes of Tennyson and great poems of sustainablility, poems of resilience, poems of endurance, poems of going on, and advice, and encouragement, from Cafavy, Derek Walcott, Nikki Giovanni, Alex Lemon, your Dr. B, Alicia Ostriker, Mary Oliver, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Traci Brimhall, Trina Burke, Rachel Barenblot, and Mark Strand, whose life we mark this week, Mark Strand, yes, the one who wrote one of my favorite lines, ink is dripping from the corners of my lips, there is no happiness like mine, I have been eating poetry, that Mark Strand, and many others, poems rooted in epic, the epic spirit of journey, of continuing on through storm and monster and captivity and spell and bad luck and ire of the gods and all the farfalle that befalls us as we strive to reach our Ithacas, as Odysseys in The Odyssey of three thousand years ago . . . and then in the tree outside the window is a chickadee, improbable against the drab cold gray of day, so here is our show today,THE NEWS OF POETRY AND CHICKADEE: RX IN A TIME OF STRUGGLE
In Memory of Mark Strand
Poetry to ease and rouse your heart. Poetry of loveliness of spirit. Redeeming and nourishing and encouraging poetry. In today’s public debates of what learning matters most to survive our world today, and for society to thrive, is poetry impractical, an art, a luxury we cannot afford? And yet, and yet: what was in Nelson Mandela’s pocket (and mind) in those 27 years in jail? What did he give to the captain of the South African rugby team to inspire it to win and help unify a nation, a goal that was considered hopeless? What inspired Martin Luther King and Gandhi and Churchill to think in new ways to give hope to people demoralized by their experience of our world of injustice and attack and abandonment? What made Alfred Lord Tennyson not give up on his life? What has made the difference in the lives of leaders, whether of nations, communities, teams, or families? Let’s say it together! Poetry! Hear hear! We’ll hear encouraging poems that helped the writers get through the moment, poems that rally us, poems that advise us what to do, what to think. And what does a chickadee have to do with it? Aha! Who knew? We’ll get started and then we’ll see . . . That is the poet’s secret we will reveal, forthwith, on our Poetry Slow Down . . . as we slow down for poetry, the age-old Rx.
So first, let’s begin with Mark Strand, who died this week at age 80, who said some of my favorite lines—ink is dripping from the corners of my lips, there is no happiness like mine, I have been eating poetry . . . WE have been eating poetry, swallowing it whole, hokey-pokey style, with our whole selves in, at the Poetry Slow Down with Professor Barbara Mossberg . . . .
© Barbara Mossberg 2014