Best prose description of poetry I’ve read this week.

Poetry is a different beast. I rarely think of poetry and as something I make happen; it is more accurate to say that it happens to me…When a poem does arrive, I gasp as if an apple had fallen into my hand, and give thanks for the luck involved. Poems are everywhere, but easy to miss. I know I might very well stand under that tree all day, whistling, looking off to the side, waiting for a red delicious poem to fall so I could own it forever. But like as not, it wouldn’t . Instead it will fall right while I’m in the middle of changing the baby, or breaking up a rodeo event involving my children and the dog, or wiping my teary eyes while I’m chopping onions and listening to the news; then that apple will land with a thud and roll under the bed with the dust bunnies and lie there forgotten and lost for all time. There are dusty, lost poems all over my house, I assure you. In yours, too, I’d be willing to bet.

“Stealing Apples”, Small Wonder, Barbara Kingsolver.

I wait expectantly — but sometimes, I have to admit, cynically, not expecting much — for poem apples to fall all the time. Usually they hit me in the head while I’m driving, as I’m struck by the beauty of something at loose in the world. Then, they are usually smashed on the asphalt, just barely escaping the crush of the tires, gasping in the exhaust; a few pieces are carried off on vaporous trails to land softly somewhere else. If I were a better driver of poems, I would pull over to the side and transcribe them. But, sometimes, often times, it is just easier and more joyous to let them sing as I hum along with the melody. They feel known to me, much like this paragraph, as if it were written into my memory long ago. Just briefly, the creaky hinges on the attic door opened and released the words.

As Ms. Kingsolver continues in this essay:

I’ve lost so many [poems] I can’t count them. I do understand that they fall when I’m least able to pay attention because poems fall not from a tree, really, but from the richly polinated boughs of an ordinary life, buzzing, as lives do, with clamor and glory. They are easy to miss but everywhere: poetry just is, whether we revere it or try to put it in prison. It is elementary grace , communicated from one soul to another. It reassures us of what we know and socks us in the gut with what we don’t, it sings us awake, it’s irresistible, it’s congenital.

Here’s to ordinary days and the poems that compose them.


6 responses to “Best prose description of poetry I’ve read this week.

  1. Those passages are great. It makes me want to pay attention to the poems happening around me that I so easily miss! It’s a great call to pay attention.

    • Sometimes I think it is enough to just pay attention to them as they happen, but I often wish that I could later remember them to write them down!

  2. Kingsolver’s description are beautiful and, I think, apply to creativity in general in many ways. Inspiriation usually strikes when we least expect it and often at the most inconvenient times.

    • Yes, I think that this could describe inspiration for any creative endeavor. I was tempted at first to say, that it may be different for a writer, as the words come to you but you don’t write them down, and that this may be different than, for instance a painter. But, as I am not an artist, I don’t know that I can speak to that. I can see a painter envisioning a painting, but, unable to get to paints and canvas for some period of time, suffer from a lack of recollection of her vision. The painter may still create a painting — and who is to say that it isn’t the better for the delay — but it may not be the same as if it were captured immediately. The same for poetry or prose.

  3. I enjoyed catching up with your writing AnneCamille – thoughtful and interesting. I have tweeted this post – I thought it was brilliant!