Tuesday, October 25, 2016

25. Poetry on the Pavement

One day I took a longer-than-usual walk to Barnes and Noble. Just a few blocks past where I tripped down the sidewalk as I smiled at the attractive blond, I heard the most beautiful poem read by its author on Elizabeth Gilbert's Magic Lessons podcast:

Breaking Surface
by Mark Nepo 
Let no one keep you from your journey,
no rabbi or priest, no mother
who wants you to dig for treasures
she misplaced, no father
who won't let one life be enough,
no lover who measures their worth
by what you might give up,
no voice that tells your in the night
it can't be done.

Let nothing dissuade you
from seeing what you see
or feeling the winds that make you
want to dance alone
or go where no one
has yet to go.

You are the only explorer.
Your heart, the unreadable compass.
Your soul, the shore of a promise
too great to be ignored.

I am not a big fan of poetry, never have been. But my favorite book, Love Walked In, is written by a poet named Marisa de los Santos, and her poetry definitely enhances her poetry. I've heard many times over that writers need to read and study poetry to improve their word choices and writing. Nepo's poem and hearing him read it, piqued my interest in pursuing poetry in a more determined way.

Each episode of the Magic Lessons podcast is a discussion on the creative life and how to overcome the obstacles that often meet artists on their journey.

Nepo talked about the importance of being a verb rather than a noun. Writing and creating versus being a writer or creator. His point was that being a verb has far fewer limitations than the noun. Writing and creating is far less restrictive or confining than being a writer or creator. When you're writing or creating, anything can be a canvas: poetry, creative non-fiction, fiction, cereal box marketing. But if you're merely a writer, one novel or one poem can box you in. Make it harder to move out of a label, genre, or mindset. 
This concept can apply beyond creative pursuits. Mothering vs. mother; gardening vs. gardener; helping vs. helper; walking vs. walker. 
I suspect I was more open to Mark Nepo's poem because I was walking. I was moving my whole body as I was taking in new information. The movement helped me metabolize something new, and thereby made me more receptive.

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