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Want to process the last year in writing? Here are three chances: Two small playshops through Wilkinson Public Library where we write and share, 12 people per class. 
OR
a 40-minute Thoughtshop, hosted by SHYFT at Mile High, that will offer tons of poems and prompts. (Webinar format)

Dear 2020: Writing to explore losses and blessings of the pandemic
 May 19, 6-8 MT OR May 20, 10 a.m.- noon
The pandemic changed so much—how we greet each other, how we meet each other, how we work, how we play, how we move. There were huge losses—loved ones, careers, homes. And there were, for each of us, thousands of smaller losses—celebrations, vacations, events, goals, connections with family and friends, social rituals. For two hours, we’ll read and discuss and write poems (or not poems) that help us to name our griefs, meet them and honor how they have shaped us. We’ll explore, too, the silver linings and small blessings, letting poetry help us meet this moment and all that brought us here. Free. Led by poet Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer. Register here:  https://telluridelibrary.org/events/  
 
Re-Meeting the Self: A thoughtshop exploring losses and blessings of the pandemic
 May 
The pandemic changed so much—how we greet each other, how we meet each other, how we work, how we play, how we move. There were devastating losses of loved ones. Life-changing losses of careers, homes. And there were, for each of us, thousands of smaller losses—missed celebrations, vacations, events, goals, connections with family and friends and social rituals. In this 40-minute webinar, poet Rosemerry will read poems that help us to name our griefs, meet them and honor how they have shaped us. She will also share poems that explore silver linings and small blessings. With each poem, she’ll offer prompts for writing on your own in which we might let poetry help us meet this moment and all that brought us here. To register, https://shyftatmilehigh.punchpass.com/classes/8251189

 

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What a woman really needs
is a blank sheet of paper,
which takes trees, of course,
softwood coniferous are best—
pines, firs, spruce, hemlock.
Their long fibers produce the strongest paper
able to hold the most difficult words.

And the tree needs sunlight, clean air, water.
And the tree must be cut using a chainsaw,
harvester, feller buncher. Must be moved
with a skidder or a forwarder.
Must be transported to the sawmill on a truck:
So many machines run by so many
human hands attached to human limbs
with human hearts and human hurts
and human hopes.

And of course, the woman
needs a pen for writing on the paper—
the ink no longer coming from soot
but from pigment including a solvent, a binder,
and a plethora of additives
such as chelating and drying agents—
a complex concoction suited to giving clarity
to complex thoughts.

She needs a room. Or a closet. A counter?
Or simply entry to an inner place
where there are no other voices
asking for help or offering help either.
A space where the predominant voice
she hears is her own—or perhaps,
more truly, the voice she is ripening into,
the voice that emerges when she lets the blank page
know more than she does, lets it lead her
on cursive paths that cross themselves often
but move her ever forward.

And then, with that clean sheet full of memories,
that pen with its synthesized balance,
that room with its impossible blessing,
she might at last meet what she really needs most,
that part of herself she will forever
continue to wonder about, that self
that reaches for her, that asks her to wrestle,
invites her to see what else she might find
in all that abundant blank.  

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And do you know that you’re actually going to make more of a difference by focusing on politics than on the culture you’re passionate about? You don’t know what you might help make happen. Our world is full of the result of unintended as well as intended consequences. 

        —Yo-Yo Ma, “Yo-Yo Ma and the Meaning of Life” in The New York Times Magazine, Nov. 20, 2020

When Rilke travelled through Russia

and studied Saint Francis

and fell in love with the married Salomé

and wrote poems for The Book of Hours,

he could not have known

that over a century later

a woman on another continent

would find herself wrestled by darkness

and find in his poems encouragement

to lean even deeper into darkness

until she could fall in love

with what she feared most.

He could not have known she would

tattoo his words into her memory

and scribe them into her blood

so whenever she walked or lay in the dark

she would have his words ever with her,

and they made her not only more brave

but more wildly alive than she’d been before.

And what if, as his parents had pushed,

Rilke had joined the military

and turned his back on poetry?

And what if he had not gotten himself expelled

from trade school so he could go on

to study literature and art?

What would have become of the woman

a hundred years later

had she not found his poem

and learned from him to love the dark?

Here’s a version of that poem that saved me, “You Darkness, That I Come From,” read by Meryl Streep.

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Like Monopoly. Because you always ended up landing on Boardwalk

where the red hotel meant you owed two thousand dollars

and all you had were mortgaged railroads. Or like checkers,

because really, what was fun about moving small plastic disks

diagonally and hearing the other kid say, “King me.” And soccer?

Only because your mother made you because she wanted

to be coach. You did want to play school, but no one else did,

so you were the principal, the teacher, the student,

giving yourself homework, grading it yourself. Writing in red

in your best cursive at the top of the page, “See me.”

You didn’t want to play basketball, because no one else

ever chose you for their team. Even though you were tall.

And you were chosen last for volleyball, too. And t-ball.

And Red Rover. And dodge ball. Is it any wonder your favorite

way to play was to visit the junkyard and find treasure?

Or to walk along the lake to look for flowers and worms?

Is it any wonder you learned to love playing alone

in quiet rooms with an empty page and a pen?

There was no way then you could have known

that it would save you—no, you just thought

you were playing the only way you knew how,

walking through the only doors

you knew how to open yourself.

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            with thanks to Rebecca Mullen

but what if I can’t do enough

I said, and love said

what if you don’t try?

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One Long Story

hovering over

the generous blank

the pen wonders how to improve

on all that potential—

oasis without a trail

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Proxy

The woman who knows what to write

did not show up today. Perhaps she’s gone

hiking amongst the blue larkspur, or

maybe she’s pulling weeds in the garden.

Perhaps she got a job as a counselor or a priest,

or decided to run for political office.

I wish she’d show up again. Sometimes

it’s not easy to face the blank, to believe

there are any words worth writing. Like today,

when I read about how the abandoned fracking wells

are leaking pollutants. How today will be

the first federal execution in seventeen years.

How there are still children at the border

still crying, “¡Mami!” and “¡Papá!”

Perhaps she was simply so sad

that she went to sit in a corner, quietly,

not to forget, but to find the strength to meet it.

Perhaps she is, even now, trying to conjure

the words that might actually make a difference.

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Fortunate

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Tonight, I want to break into the fortune cookie factory

armed with millions of tiny rectangular papers

that I’d surreptitiously slip into the thin folded wafers.

You will say five nice things in the next hour, says one.

And, You’ll bake something nice for your neighbor.

Every fortune will predict a generosity of spirit.

A grudge you’ve been gripping will disappear.

Gratitude for the smallest things will flood you.

And on the back, it will acknowledge that to make

any number lucky, you’ll simply write a check

using that number to a local charity—

the more zeroes you add to the number,

the luckier that number will be.

Or, perhaps a better idea:

fill each cookie with a blank slip of paper—

some small scrap of potential that invites every person

to write their own fortune, lets them feel

like the author of their own destiny. In fact, here.

Here’s a pen. And a very small white page.

You don’t even need the cookie.

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Dear Other Version of Myself,

 

In my calendar, it’s April second

and you are going to an event tonight

at a bookstore in another town

where the people will gather

and hug each other and taste

each other’s wine. You live in a world

that no longer exists, and every day

I try to reconcile it—how you

had plans to go camping next weekend,

how you were going to go to the theater

with no mask, no gloves,

no sense of your body as a weapon.

 

Every day, your life, which once was my life,

seems increasingly impossible.

Every day, these two worlds are farther apart—

the one in which you were getting on a plane

to visit your mother

and the one in which I put on rubber gloves

to go to the post office box.

I remember how seldom you washed

your hands for fear that someone you love

would die. I remember what it was like

to hug my friends with no worry

of harming them, to go to a restaurant,

to plan for a day past tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I’m so grateful to Braided Way for sharing this poem today …

 

In a time of national crisis, what our country really needs is a good poem.
—Herbert Hoover

This is the time when we must say to the stranger,
the other, sit here. Notice how difficult it can be
to even come to the same table, how hard
to look the other in the eye. Something in us screams,
“Right, I am right.” And it is hard to hear the voice
beneath that scream, a whisper of a gospel that says
nothing at all.

This is the time when we must say to ourselves,
I am also the stranger, when we must look
in the mirror and not know who it is we see—
someone capable of being more courageous,
more compassionate, more devoted, more
astonishingly vulnerable and connected
than we ever knew ourselves to be. Who
is that stranger in the mirror, we must ask,
and vow to never let her down.

This is the time when we must write the poems
our country needs, the poem that builds the bridge
from truth to truth and never touches the river
of lies. The poem that allows our country
to fall in love with itself again, the poem
with enough places set at its table
that everyone knows they have a place to sit
and the rest of us know when that person is missing
because their chair is empty.

This is the time for the beauty that passes
all understanding, a testament of goodness
that cannot be contained, a congress of delight.
This is the time to pick up your pen
and with your most tender, most beautiful,
most ferocious self,
fight.

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