Can you picture the house or apartment where you grew up? The texture of the couch, the sound of water in the pipes? Did the windows rattle, and what did the doorknobs look like? Can you draw a map of each room?
So many sensory images come flooding back to me as I read George Ella Lyon’s poetry collection MANY-STORIED HOUSE. She focuses on family, on small moments, on tiny details of her childhood home. Her poems about memory, relationships, and sense of place are beautifully specific and universal at the same time. She’s inspiring me to write about my first home, a two-bedroom apartment in a fourth-floor walk-up on a one-way street in the Bronx. The closet doorknobs were made of glass; the rumble of the subway was our metronome.
Lyon writes for both children and adults, and I’m looking forward to learning from her in an online workshop hosted by poet Georgia Heard in January. You can read about it here. Maybe I’ll see you there!
On Fridays, I love taking part in Poetry Friday when I can, where writers share resources about children’s poetry. This week, Michelle Kogan hosts the Poetry Friday Roundup today at her blog. Check out the celebration of poetry there today!
As writers, we get used to leaning into headwinds, persevering through all of the rejections and maybes and the waiting. Then when something wonderful happens, it’s a shock to the system!
Yesterday, my poem about growing up in the Bronx appeared in the New York Times. Right there in the Metropolitan Diary section of the Sunday Times was “Ars Poetica, Bronx,” a poem I wrote about how I became a poet. It was inspired by a prompt from a class on poetic forms, taught by poet Georgia Heard in spring 2021. It was written in my favorite time of day, when I rise at 5 a.m. to enjoy an hour or two of writing time before the world wakes up, a ritual known to many writers as #5amwritersclub.
Sharing the poem brought me so much joy yesterday– and enthusiastic responses from friends and family in Massachusetts and New York, California and Ireland, the UK and Brazil. It brought back vivid memories of the breakfast table in our apartment in the Bronx, where the Times was a fixture.
When the “yes” days happen, it’s important to savor them! Yesterday was a “yes” day.
Writing is a solitary craft. But we also need the spark and alchemy of sharing with and learning from others.
I’m right in the middle of a three-week poetry forms class led by poet Georgia Heard. I am learning wonderful techniques that will elevate my writing, but I’m also gaining so much from the energy and insights of the other poets, and the way that Georgia establishes a sense of community. Last week we had poet Marilyn Singer present to us about reversos!
The magic that happens in a supportive creative community is a key to surviving the writing life, and so is sharing time and talents with a generosity of spirit (something Georgia Heard does especially well!). Twyla Tharp writes about this in her amazing book THE CREATIVE HABIT:
“I cannot overstate how much a generous spirit contributes to luck. Look at the luckiest people around you, the ones you envy, the ones who seem to have destiny falling habitually into their laps. What are they doing that singles them out? It isn’t dumb luck if it happens repeatedly. If they’re anything like the fortunate people I know, they’re prepared, they’re always working at their craft, they’re alert, they involve their friends in their work, and they tend to make others feel lucky around them.”
I think this captures the spirit of Poetry Friday, too! Wishing you a happy Friday, a good weekend, and a way to share time and talents with supportive and generous friends.
On Fridays, I love taking Poetry Friday when I can, where writers share their love of all things poetry. This week, Susan hosts the Poetry Friday Roundup today at Soul Blossom Living. Check out the feast of poetry there today!