I think it’s okay to count ancestors, don’t you? Especially if it happens to be an American poet with a park named after him.
Under a blanket of humidity in Bryant Park tonight, they read from their gorgeous books, iPads and off freshly printed pieces of white paper. The unbound are gifts for the audience, windows into the process of genus.
When Patrick Rosal read a poem about living near a military storage site as a child, I wondered how many of us live near the uninhabitable. He has this fabulous sense of humor that makes us feel safe no matter what.
When Kimiko Hahn read from her book, Toxic Flora, all creatures miniscule and dangerous became human, reversing laws of nature. Her newer poems, poems inspired by neuroscience, made me wish I could transfer some of that wild intelligence into my own brain.
Tina Chang embodied the Empress Dowager, a prominent character from her book, Of Gods and Strangers, until the stage became lit with ancient mirrors reflecting family, history, and passion. Her motherhood poems made me want to cry.
The collective mixture of themes that encompass loss, fear, rage, nature, history (individual and collective) with a dash of humor makes for some pretty powerful poetry.
What makes you angry, afraid? What makes you cry? What story plays through your head? You don’t want to go there, I know. But you must.
Inside our blanket of humidity, family weaves a knotty pattern. It takes courage to write about the ones we live/ lived with as children or adults. When roles flip, maybe we’re a little smarter.
WRITING PROMPT # 40
- In the spirit of ancestors and teachers this week, revisit a lesson. What lesson have you neglected to learn? How have you been the defiant student? Go through an old notebook from a workshop, class, conference and follow through on an assignment you never finished. Oh, right, you always finished all of your homework. Do it again.
- Pluck a moment from childhood to write about. If you’ve written about it already, change the perspective. You are now the aunt, father, teacher, mother, friend. What do you look like from this ladder? Don’t preach to yourself, don’t beat yourself up, just write.
WHEN YOU FINISH WRITING:
- Visit Bryant Park’s website to see who else is reading this summer: http://www.bryantpark.org/plan-your-visit/calendar.html?evt=2356
- Buy a book by Kimiko Hahn, Tina Chang, and Patrick Rosal. I can promise you they are all divine and well worth the small investment. Borrow one from the library. Ask the librarian to buy it for your local library. Support poetry.
- Honor your teachers by writing something good. Post it here if you’re brave for feedback.