Poet Molly Peacock says that there is a strange balancing act between writing poetry, and reading it or performing it. “Generating poetry requires solitude, but performing poetry, which means that what I’ve written is now a script for the actor part of me to transform, requires community.”
A balancing act…
But she adds, “Solitude never exhausts me, though, and community, as exciting as it is, can deplete my energy.”
And she also talks of words – poems – her writing – coming from a solitary space within – “the poem that is going to come from my solo, unobligated self.”
Finding that place is different for every one of us. Like a blind man learning how to see. Or a deaf woman learning how to hear. Or a child who has never walked….experiencing what it means….to take those first steps…
And finally walking….only to fall again.
Like in this poem…
WALKING IS ALMOST FALLING
In saying no, you felt as though you lied,
wrecking an old self. But did you wreck it?
Then, from under, the world began to slide.
In fact, you told the truth when you replied.
You took the step and finally saw it fit,
but saying no, you felt as though you lied.
The great snows gone, the galactic glide
begun, the mud-pink gums of earth were lit
by sun, and then the world began to slide.
Its tongue roiled up and curved. You tried
to walk at first—and could, a little bit!
—but stepping so, you felt as though you lied,
for the warm world felt false. It did not hide
its self. Walking on the crust employed your wit:
said yes. Then stepped. (This way the world won’t slide.)
But walking on open earth is a choice; the tide
of all acceptance is unloosed. Truth, it is
unsteady, the old glum world begins to slide.
You hurt, saying no, and feel as though you lied.
Walking. Sometimes falling.
Sometimes alone….sometimes with others.
And sometimes no matter how the world and people in it entreat and beg and intrude, you need to be alone.
The timeless conflict not just of poets but of all writers and many (most?) artists.
I have my own ways of resolving it….or trying to resolve it. There are times I crave the company of my fellow human beings. And times I must sequester myself away and alone from any other contact.
Molly Peacock also talks about how poets become ‘noticers’- capable of noticing and absorbing minute but telling details in the world around them. “I’m not sure if a poet’s imagery can be cultivated, but a noticing state of mind can be cultivated, and if you become a noticer, even the kind of person who counts how many stairs in a stairwell, or the legs on an insect, or the length of hesitation in a voice, then you become aware of the disjunct between what we think of as ‘ordinary’ and the experience the noticer is really having.”
Walking is a choice.
And noticing is a choice too.
Whether the world stays solid under your feet….or begins to slide.
And sometimes taking that first step out – over the yawning chasm – or onto the blank page which awaits – is the hardest one. You’d think the second would be easier and the third, easier yet.
Gotta go now. Got places to go to….never get there if I don’t start now.