A PARENT TURNS 36 (THAT’S NOT OLD!): I WHO HAVE DIED AM ALIVE AGAIN TODAY

All things birth-day, thinking of Ta-Nehesi Coates’ Between the World and Me, A Parent’s Thoughts (coming soon to a neighborhood near you), and tomorrow, the first day of school, a new year, a new life: WHAT DO YOU WANT FOR OUR WORLD, WHAT WOULD YOUR LETTER BE? WHAT WOULD YOU TEACH, WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE BE LEARNED? And so, launched by thoughts of T.S. Eliot’s birthday, beginnings . . . beginnings . . .

You Know You Move Too Fast! Hello, Poetry Slow Down, our whole community, on this day that yes, is our son’s birthday, but also mine, too, as a mom, so let’s begin with a birthday poem, as we slow down for our Poetry Slow Down, produced by Zappa Johns, our own Mr. Z, and I’m our Dr. B, your professor Barbara Mossberg, here (hear hear!) since 2008, every week a little time we slow down for the news we need, the news we heed, the news without which, according to Dr. William Carlos Williams, who as a doctor in his day job, should know, we die miserably every day . . . I welcome you to our listening community, all ears, awake again today: here is “i thank You God for most this amazing,” a sonnet about awakenings and beginnings: e.e. cummings, publishing 100 years ago, whose actual birthday we’ll celebrate in two weeks, it’s October 14, and for me, and today, I’m thinking about poems that express my message I would write in a letter to my own son-the best letter writer, by the way—what would I have the world be, and he be, in this world . . . my hope, and so I take off from a book we have thought about on this show, a letter from a father to a son, and what poetry has to do with it, in seeing our world . . what the Persian poet Hafiz calls this blessed calamity, with wonder, as a place, yes, of darkness, and fear, but also of beauty, and it just may be our job to see it, and this may be the same thing, Poetry Slow Down, but tomorrow is the first day of school, it’s actually my favorite day of the year, I’m excited, I’m nervous, I don’t sleep all night, what are the books, what are the assignments, what is the work, the first words, what do I want most to be learned, and in both these roles, a mother giving birth, a teacher, it’s all about . . . wanting something to grow, letting go, being the rocket booster, the Sherpa, what did Blake say, ah, you know what he said, I always quote it, without knowing what it really means, without facing it head on, kiss the joy as it flies, and you shall live in eternity’s sunrise . . . I guess I think that means, appreciate the joy even as you know it can’t stay, it changes, it’s flying, flying away, on its way . . . and that’s what you want, to see this life take off—well, now that we’re talking about it, I realize, it’s about birth, isn’t it? We . . . let go .  . . and it isn’t easy—literally—labor—excrutiating—but a beginning life is a letter go, and rejoicing, embracing it, not fearing, not lamenting, and I suspect, Poetry Slow Down, we have spent most of our human consciousness on earth fearing and lamenting, so that makes it all the more extraordinary when –and it’s most often our poets, when we’re doing all the work and they’re over there like Lionni’s mouse, Frederick, who saves his community through using his (poet’s) words. Our show today celebrates writers who urge us to believe we can begin again, that beginning again is what we are made for, makes us, sustains us. We talk about William Blake, William Carlos Williams, T.S. Eliot, Thoreau, e.e. cummings, Tennyson, Churchill, Rumi, and Hafiz, and I share two poems on this theme. Frankly, it’s a show about long-time favs, lines it gives me so much pleasure to read I am in thrall, a private rapture in a public space like radio, and it is such an honor and joy in my life to savor poetry with our community of listeners here, my peoples, beloveds.

© Barbara Mossberg 2016

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