Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart


still learning from the student ~

 And no one exists alone….We must love one another or die.   ~ Auden

A dear former student just posted a line of Auden to my FaceBook: We must love one another or die. It’s from the poem “September 1, 1939,” one of my favourites. Sitting in a cafe, surrounded by friends  who are quietly writing, I was overcome for a moment.

I miss teaching. Not the grading, not even standing up in front of a rapt class. I miss the learning, the many ways human being teach other what is important. As my former student reminded me just now: we are never alone.

Poetry is such a huge part of my life. Other people go off on riffs about their bikes, or gardens, or their hobbies. I go off on dead poets and metre and metaphor and the neo-sonnet. I just did that at lunch… Sigh… My poor, long-suffering friends.

Because poetry is the heart’s language — that way of laying out the finite griefs that seem forever, the fragile and joys that craze and shatter even as we contemplate them. What I have learned these many years of teaching is that I’m not a particularly amazing teacher; I’m just lucky enough to teach an amazing art: writing. Often poetry.

To teach poetry — to teach writing — is to learn with students this mysterious way of speaking and knowing. It’s to understand how (& why) Auden would say so bluntly: We must love each other or die. 

 



Previous Posts

form, poetry, and the empty cup
I spent the day researching obscure poetic forms.  And it was enormous fun -- thinking about what to pour into those elegant white cups of structure. Along the way, I wrote this poem for my sisters (the least structured of women). But we'll get to the poem in a moment. Because what's important i

posted 3:41:38pm Apr. 18, 2014 | read full post »

poetry, structure, and creative beginner's heart
Last night, discussing structure and writing with my elder son, I said I couldn't write w/ too much structure. That writing is -- for me -- a discovery process. Structure, I told him, can actually kill my ide

posted 3:03:47pm Apr. 16, 2014 | read full post »

what a difference a day makes (and other ways I wish I was like my grandson)
My grandson burnt his hands Sunday. Not horribly, but badly enough that he cried inconsolably for hours. Today? He's his usual sunny self: slapping the Cheerios on the highchair

posted 3:01:12pm Apr. 15, 2014 | read full post »

in the flash of a moment
My grandson hurt himself today. Not horribly, but bad enough that he's been crying for two+ hours. On a lovely spring day -- temps in the lower 70s -- he was on the deck w/ his folks, crawling happily around

posted 4:45:55pm Apr. 13, 2014 | read full post »

the poetry of every day
It's easy to forget that every day holds poetry. Especially if you're hectic: packing, moving, cleaning a new house, unpacking... Soothing a disolocated dog, holding a curious baby. Eating out of cartons while you locate the dishes and pans. All of this can make you forget the whole point of the

posted 2:46:45pm Apr. 12, 2014 | read full post »




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