Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Words To Inspire Writing

I've never been able to get into poetry. I teach it, I read it, I've tried to write it, but it doesn't grab me the way a short story or novel does.

I received a theatre minor in college, so I was able to avoid poetry classes by taking theatre critique instead. I thought it was a great setup, until I realized how little I had read in poetry. I then made it a point to seek out poetry classes in graduate school. I wanted to read more of it and become good at reading it, so by the time I graduated from Boston University, almost half of my masters degree was focused on poetry.

I try to embrace poetry now, but I have to admit that I'd rather grab some prose. However, there is a poem that I carry around in my purse and copy into each new writer's journal. Lee Martin introduced it to me this summer at the Kenyon Writers Workshop. He read it to our workshop group on the last day, and now I go back to it over and over again for inspiration. I love the poem. It's beautiful, inspiring and true. I'm hoping that it may also speak to some of you the way it does to me..

The Writer
Richard Wilbur

In her room at the prow of the house
Where light breaks, and the windows are tossed with linden,
My daughter is writing a story.

I pause in the stairwell, hearing
From her shut door a commotion of typewriter-keys
Like a chain hauled over a gunwale.

Young as she is, the stuff
Of her life is a great cargo, and some of it heavy:I
wish her a lucky passage.

But now it is she who pauses,
As if to reject my thought and its easy figure.
A stillness greatens, in which

The whole house seems to be thinking,A
nd then she is at it again with a bunched clamor
Of strokes, and again is silent.

I remember the dazed starling
Which was trapped in that very room, two years ago;
How we stole in, lifted a sash

And retreated, not to affright it;
And how for a helpless hour, through the crack of the door,
We watched the sleek, wild, dark

And iridescent creature
Batter against the brilliance, drop like a glove
To the hard floor, or the desk-top,

And wait then, humped and bloody,
For the wits to try it again; and how our spirits
Rose when, suddenly sure,

It lifted off from a chair-back,
Beating a smooth course for the right window
And clearing the sill of the world.

It is always a matter, my darling,
Of life or death, as I had forgotten. I wish
What I wished you before, but harder.

*I will post the winner of my contest tomorrow...I just need to add up all the points from all my great readers!


Mina Carlisle said...

I am the very same way about poetry. I don't mind reading it, but I cannot for the life of me write it. Even though I took a Creative Writing Poetry class my freshman year of college, it still eludes me to this day.

But that's a wonderful poem. It's beautiful and inspiring. Thanks for sharing!

Lisa Nowak said...

What a great poem! I'm not much of a poet, either, though several people in one of my critique groups are.

margosita said...

I love this poem, and named my old blog "dazed starling" in honor of it. It's one of the poems I have hanging up near my desk.

Eileen Wiedbrauk said...

@margosita -- I was wondering if that's where you got your blog title!

Andrea said...

Awesome poem! I got an English degree but wasn't a huge poetry fan. I did take a poetry writing class in college and I remember reading my first poem aloud. The professor said, "Um. Good reading."