Postcard Poetry Month

When I Met My Muse

I glanced at her and took my glasses
off — they were still singing. They buzzed
like a locust on the coffee table and then
ceased. Her voice belled forth, and the
sunlight bent. I felt the ceiling arch, and
knew that nails up there took a new grip
on whatever they touched. “I am your own
way of looking at things,” she said. “When
you allow me to live with you, every
glance at the world around you will be
a sort of salvation.” And I took her hand.

–William Stafford

August is Postcard Poetry month. I hadn’t taken part in the last few years (August is always so busy!), but this year I decided to rejoin, and I’m so glad I did. The idea is to write a new, original poem, on the back of a postcard, and send it to someone on the address list. Each day, someone sends a postcard poem to you. The postcard images are the inspiration…but the received poems and postcards start to mix in, too.

I prepared by collecting short poems that I loved, by other poets, and thinking about what it was that that made me love them. I decided that it has to do with the way a short poem quickly captures an image, and then makes something more of it, something symbolic and surprising. In this poem (above) by William Stafford, you don’t expect the glasses to sing or buzz, but while you’re distracted by that, here comes a new voice, “belled forth,” and the awakening is so keenly drawn that even the nails in the ceiling insist on a role in it.

This awakening, it strikes me, is what all poetry is really about. Be awake. See the world with new eyes. Be saved by what you see.

The poem itself is a pair of glasses. And then there’s the legerdemain — the magic — of the seeing with/without them at the same instant.

image from

World Peace, and Poetry

When I heard that my friend Carla Shafer was teaching a poetry workshop in Bellingham on Feb. 28, I told her I would attend. One of my daughters goes to Western Washington University, and I thought I could have lunch with her, and thus kill two birds with one stone.

I didn’t pay much attention to the topic of the workshop–yes, I really have been that busy, just kind of moving from one thing to another, keeping my head down–but “killing two birds” was not in keeping with the day.

It turned out that Annie was going to be home for the weekend. It turned out that I was mucho stressed about my mother, kind of (not kind of, really) depressed, in fact. I woke up Thursday morning with a sore throat and decided that I would tell Carla I was sick and not attend the workshop afterall.

Then, the most amazing thing happened. I talked to a friend about being depressed, and she gave me an assignment to do something that brings me joy. Joy? I laughed nervously.

I just want to nap, I said. I just want to bury myself in a mystery novel and stay in bed all day. And that brings you joy? she said.

Well, I said, poetry used to bring me joy, and I was supposed to go to a workshop Saturday morning.

Then go, she said. And so I did.

I had an absolutely amazing day. In addition to being about poetry and poets, the purpose of the day was an award ceremony hosted by “World Peace Poets.” I saw a film about Oregon poet William Stafford. I drafted a new poem. I met a number of Bellingham and British Columbia poets, saw a few old friends. And, as a bonus, was able to have dinner with my friend Carla.

World peace, and poetry. Can it get any better?