Today at Dodge, I focused on the series of talks called Poets on Poetry. A random assortment of poetic ramblings and wisdom from the day:
"language is a type of failure"
"ecstatic love and deep grief defy language"
"poetic language picks up the rubble of life's experience"
"art can save your life"
"be a fan of your failures"
"A poem is for the writing of another poem"
"I don't know what I'm doing"
"I write humongous amounts of bad poems."
"Poems are a way to manage the chaos of the universe"
The art of empathy is to be able to feel with but not to be consumed by what you are feeling
"The failure of empathy is the failure of imagination"
"Empathy starts with listening"
On Neruda: "I didn't know anyone could express themselves with language like that."
"Committed to writing poems regardless of the outcome."
"Writing has never made me feel good."
Today was a day of students and teachers. Of teens from schools in NJ and environs taking it all in, breathing poetry like air.
This is a first draft for all of them, the intense, the eager, the hungry, the uncertain:
Here is beauty. Your dreadlocks
are beautiful. Your eager
acne marked face is beautiful.
Your mismatched socks, one
blue, one green, the colors of earth
against lean brown legs, beautiful.
Your canted eyes, your epicanthic fold
magnified beneath thick
black glasses. Your blond hair,
bleached and overdyed purple
is beautiful. And your smooth hair, your
kinky hair, your buzz cut. All
beautiful. Your self conscious
scribblings, the ones you never show
a soul, the ones you post
on a facebook wall. The ones
you abandon without signing
on the cafeteria's steel table;
all beautiful. I want you to know
just how beautiful you are.
Then I will know it too. Tell it
true to the girl who sits
one bench over, all gawky limbs
and question mark spine,
her hand scratching
across the page.