“The only war that matters is the war against imagination.”
- from Diane di Prima’s beat poem, “Rant”*
Recently I attended a gathering of writers. Thirty of us sat on chairs and couches and spots on the floor in a home with many windows overlooking the Northwest Arm, a beautiful body of water, which, on this day, was covered in a fine maritime mist. But the view was not the main attraction; we were all there to listen to a panel of three poets discuss the subject, “What Are Poets Thinking?”
Well, it was fascinating. Thought-provoking and lively. Engaging, and at times funny. It turns out the poets are thinking about a lot of interesting stuff. Herewith, a hodge-podge offering from the afternoon:
There was discussion of the importance of poetry being part of day-to-day life, and how much richer life would be if it actually were. This led to the relevance of being a poet in one’s community; the joy of simply giving someone a poem because you think they might enjoy it. One of the poets collects favourite poems and mails them anonymously to friends, which is, in my opinion, a unique show of generosity and a highly cool idea worth pursuing. There was talk of guerilla poetry, as in posting a poem on a telephone pole; the beauty of art graffitti.
These three poets are concerned with making a connection with the reader; also with the way poetry forces us to slow down from the crazy pace of life and take time to stop, look around. It made me think about all the people I know who claim to be too busy to read.
And it made me want to re-read Elizabeth Bishop’s poem, A Miracle for Breakfast. So I did. Here’s a taste:
“At six o’clock we were waiting for coffee,
waiting for coffee and a charitable crumb
that was going to be served from a certain balcony,
- like kings of old, or like a miracle.
It was still dark. One foot of the sun
steadied itself on a long ripple in the river.”