Writing is a dance

July 17, 2004

 “Writing is a dance with all those other books you’ve read and the ones you’re going to read. Writing is making a house within the house.” – Heather Sellers

I love the lyrical sound of the above quote. Writing, indeed, is a dance. Our words are the steps; the paper (or computer) our dance floor; our flowing thoughts the music. Some days we dance the slow pace of a personal essay waltz. Others days find us joyfully doing a boogie as we share exciting news. We might tap our way through a tutorial or gracefully perform a poetic ballet with our words. Our vocabulary might be a tango or a square dance; our delivery a salsa or a break dance.

The important thing is to write what’s on your heart. What you’ve read, your family, your friends, where you live – all these things will come into play when you sit down to write. Draw from your experiences and twist the night away!

I want to express sincere gratitude to all who read my feeble words. Writing is therapy for me. The majority of my writings the past seven months or so have been songs of lamentation. But, we find those songs in scripture, right next to songs of pure joy and songs of gratitude and worship. I embrace it all.



A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; Ecclesiastes 3:4

Poetry Once More

Tillie K. Fowler Park, Jacksonville, FL
The Trouble with Poetry: A Poem of Explanation
Billy Collins

The trouble with poetry, I realized
as I walked along a beach one night --
cold Florida sand under my bare feet,
a show of stars in the sky --

the trouble with poetry is
that it encourages the writing of more poetry,
more guppies crowding the fish tank,
more baby rabbits
hopping out of their mothers into the dewy grass.

And how will it ever end?
unless the day finally arrives
when we have compared everything in the world
to everything else in the world,

and there is nothing left to do
but quietly close our notebooks
and sit with our hands folded on our desks.

Poetry fills me with joy
and I rise like a feather in the wind.
Poetry fills me with sorrow
and I sink like a chain flung from a bridge.

But mostly poetry fills me
with the urge to write poetry,
to sit in the dark and wait for a little flame
to appear at the tip of my pencil.

And along with that, the longing to steal,
to break into the poems of others
with a flashlight and a ski mask.

And what an unmerry band of thieves we are,
cut-purses, common shoplifters,
I thought to myself
as a cold wave swirled around my feet
and the lighthouse moved its megaphone over the sea,
which is an image I stole directly
from Lawrence Ferlinghetti --
to be perfectly honest for a moment --

the bicycling poet of San Francisco
whose little amusement park of a book
I carried in a side pocket of my uniform
up and down the treacherous halls of high school.

I agree that poetry encourages the writing of more poetry. That’s why April has been such an inspirational month for me the past 9-10 years. I started out this past April with a bang, but life has a way changing as we all know. I wrote the following poem the day after we got the first news – the first inkling that things were about to change. I ended up keeping two volumes from the old set of Childcraft Encyclopedias. #1- Poems and Rhymes and #10 – Make and Do. The rest are gone, along with probably 1/2 of my household possessions. Sometimes you just have to keep the important stuff and let go of the rest. Sometimes you don’t have a choice.

Can't remember when I first felt inspired to write a poem myself
But I do remember some poems of my childhood
From Childcraft: The How and Why Library
Volume One
Poems and Rhymes
I laughed at the Purple Cow and the limericks
I met characters like little Tommy Tucker
And Polly who put the kettle on
And Mistress Mary who was quite contrary
I chanted Pease Porridge Hot and Jack Be Nimble
Was introduced to the joyous words of Robert Louis Stevenson 
And Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Whose poem about the little girl with the little curl
Was one my father always quoted to me 
And I did the same for my curly headed daughter 
And now over fifty years later
I am packing those books up to carry with me once more
Because I just can’t bear to part with them


Word Pictures #4

wordcloud words

This is the fourth installment of Word Pictures – a collection of lovely and descriptive passages. Enjoy!

“Anyway, the subject skims the joy off a pan of conversation.” Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck

“The patriarch was a taut raisin of a man…” referring to Charley Guthrie in Woody Guthrie: A Life by Joe Klein

“…exotic-looking people who seemed to be baked the same color as their houses.” – Woody Guthrie: A Life by Joe Klein

The sea

Took off her clothes

In the sun today

And naked

All night

With the wild wind lay

Written by Woody Guthrie while onboard the William B. Travis during travel for the merchant marine.

 

Word Pictures #3

sun

This is the third installment of Word Pictures – a collection of lovely and descriptive passages.

 

“And he would stand at the window, watch the pink and orange of sunrise, imagine the mist tickling the mountain’s ear or chucking it under the chin or weaving a cap for it. ” from  A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

“… the passing hours had a strangeness to them, loose and unstructured, as though the stitches were broken, the tent of time sagging one moment, billowing the next.”  from  A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

“Darkness hung over Dublin: every shade of gray between black and white had found its own little cloud, the sky was covered with a plumage of innumerable grays…” from Irish Journal by Heinrich Boll

 

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting;
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
   Hath had elsewhere its setting
    And cometh from afar;
  Not in entire forgetfulness,
 And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
 From God, who is our home:

from Ode on Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood by William Wordsworth

“… the goodness of creamed peas and of poultry allowed a free and happy life and then rolled in flour and pan-fried…” – from Lake Wobegon Days by Garrison Keillor 

“Look lak she been livin’ through uh hundred  years in January without one day of spring.”  from Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

“So she sat on the porch and watched the moon rise. Soon its amber fluid was drenching the earth, and quenching the thirst of the day.”  from Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

  

 

Word Pictures #2

 

Word Cloud (1)

This is a second installment of Word Pictures – a collection of lovely and descriptive passages.

“Her laughter catches him off guard. As if it’s carbonated and someone has poured it too fast and it’s bubbling over in all directions.” – from A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Do you know anyone who laughs like that?

“… at eight o’clock the last of the cool was burning off. The State Farm thermometer out the window over the sink was slowly percolating to the top.” – from Lake Wobegon Days by Garrison Keillor

I love the phrase “….slowly percolating to the top.” When I was a kid, I made coffee for my dad using a percolator that went on the stovetop. I loved the smell, but I didn’t drink it until I was way into my thirties – after some of my kids were already coffee drinkers.

“She knew God tore down the old world every evening and built a new one by sun-up.” – from Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

sundown

Vilano Beah, FL

 

“… a hardware store was your practical Uncle Walter, wearing bib overalls and carrying a hammer, asking you in a hearty sausage-and-egg voice to point him in the direction of what needed to be done.” – from The Year of Pleasures by Elizabeth Berg

In the first few months after we moved to BIrmingham, I noticed several times a man in overalls shopping in Publix. It was a sight I’d never seen in Jacksonville, and it brought to mind the short time we spent in south Georgia. There it was very common to see men in overalls. Sadly, I connect this memory of the overalled man to the racism that was alive and well. It was the late 80s, but it often felt like the 1960s. But, that’s a story for another day.

“…with cornsilk hair and delphinium eyes…” from Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck.

This is a perfect description of my daughter when she was a little girl. But, now I’d have to say “…with Merlot curls…”

“You pierce my soul” – Captain Wentworth to Anne in Persuasion by Jane Austen.

Word Pictures

wordpictures

Today I’m going to share some lovely sentences – just for your enjoyment.

ove“The slightly porky man on the other side of the Plexiglas has back-combed hair and arms covered in tattoos…Is that something an adult person in a healthy state of mind would consent to? Going about with his arms looking like a pair of pajamas?” from A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

light“She expects fustiness, an elder funk, but the room smells mildly of soap and books and dried seaweed.”  from All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

welty“It is because people are mostly layers of violence and tenderness…” from One Writer’s Beginnings by Eudora Welty

crosswick“I mourn for the loss of dreams and the presence of nightmare.”  from The Irrational Season by Madeleine L’Engle

“It’s the things we don’t expect that just rip the scab off,” – said Grandpa from Stand Tall by Joan Bauer

“Every lavish home contains people who have seen disease. Every lawn that must be maintained is attached to a marriage that also must be maintained.” from God of the Mundane by Matt Redmond

“…soaking in the alto chant of the visiting bees…”  from Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

tglpps“He was a mean little runt. The two of them together benasties the mind.” from The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer

“… I could see how quickly I might become a woman gnawing on a chicken leg over the kitchen sink for her dinner,…” from The Year of Pleasures by Elizabeth Berg

mr-p“She’s wearing a green cardigan with a neat zigzag pattern and dusty blue mom-jeans…” from Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

map“… shriveled like a chickpea with the cold.” from Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck