For the month of December, I’m participating in Reverb12, responding to prompts reflecting on my year. If you’d like to participate, visit Daily Angst.
Prompt for December 8th: Art: What was the most moving piece of art that you saw/experienced this year? This could mean a painting or a sculpture, or a performance you took in, or even a book that you read – tell us about the kind of art you encountered, and the way that it moved you.
I am incredibly blessed, because the colleges I teach at often invite amazing writers to campus for readings. I’m close to NYC and Philadelphia, but rarely get to visit there anymore due to the kids. So, I have to wait for writers to visit close to home.
In April, poet Taylor Mali visited campus for a reading. Here’s his most famous poem:
I wrote about the poem and how it led me to reflect on my career here.
I also had the honor of breaking bread with poet Mark Doty this year.
Doty’s greatest influence on my writing came from a comment he made when discussing writing about personal issues. He said that when we’re afraid to write, when we look for excuses to turn away from the computer or the page, is when we need to force ourselves to write. We can’t let fear keep us from processing whatever it is that’s bothering us. We have to find the courage to write.
And then there’s Buddy. I know that I tweet, speak, and write about him all of the time. But he has absolutely changed my view of art. Of poetry. Of reacting to writing. I listen to his work almost every day during my commute. Usually just a poem or two. It’s comforting to me. So many of the things he writes about connect with my philosophy, or other issues that I’m struggling with. I am so grateful for his work.
In his poem “Horseheads” he writes, “It is work to ride head up and holy here.” That line runs through my head every time I set foot on campus and think about all of the behind-the-scenes BS that goes on. It reminds me that no matter what, I need to be true to myself, and true to the work I do.
And then there’s his poem “Giant Saint Everything,” which leads to tears every time I read or hear it. Especially the lines
And then there were the ways You caught me
moving back into my cave where the wheels turn,
same wheels that drove You off.
I should have told You
before talking in terms of Forever
that any given day wears me out and works me sour,
that there are nights when the sky is so clear
I stand obnoxious underneath it
begging for the stars to shoot at me
just so I can feel at Home.
Oh, how those words describe how I’ve felt in every relationship I’ve had.
I can’t find a video of him reading it, so settle for this:
If you’re participating in Reverb12, please leave a link below. I’d love to read your responses!