Paths to poetry

This woman took the journalism path to get there, as opposed to the hordes of others that I suspect just didn’t know what else to do in life after high school and so went for a CW degree. Hanging out with writers somehow seems to always lead to writing, instead of taking their appearance and behaviour as a dire warning to flee. Huh. v

emmatroakehhm@gmail.comOne fateful night in Dallas, a poet came to read. I had never heard of her. It was Elizabeth Bishop. I was late. The auditorium was packed. I stood at the back, in the doorway, the only place left. I was grateful I didn’t have to interview anyone. I had quit journalism and was working as a waitress, trying to write poetry. At the time, I was writing a poetry stumbling somewhere between surrealism and the haunting, lilting lyric of the country western music I had been raised to.

I was floundering, but learning to trust in my materials, in poetry. Just barely visible over a podium, Bishop was in a spotlight, her close-cropped silver hair glinting. Her round head shown distant and steady as a planet. The audience was hushed, still, calm. Bishop was shy, devoid of the flamboyant, and a terrible reader. But it didn’t matter. As in all of Bishop’s poetry, one could sense the presence of the ordinary and the eternal, her steady, uncanny attention to the actual.

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