Last night I had the great pleasure of combining four of my favorite things all in one evening.
My oldest child.
My alma mater.
A perfect blend of lovely things for a night “out.”
A writerfriend and I were talking a while back about poetry. I love it. I love reading it. I love writing it. Sometimes my brain thinks in iambic pentameter. But mostly free flow. Anyway, poetry is my heart. However, as I jokingly told her, “No one buys poetry books anymore…..except me.”
And so it was that I found myself holding a beautiful copy of this poetry book by Anya Silver. My friend got it for me for my birthday. It was ironic (or perhaps perfectly planned) that this same poet was going to speak at my alma mater, Wesleyan College. I got the book Sunday evening and the very next day I reluctantly handed it off to my college aged daughter, Auburn, with the request that she attend the reading and perhaps have the book signed. (I’m a book nerd from waaaaay back.) She agreed and took my lovely book with her, but not before we stood in the parking lot where we’d met for lunch, weeping as we read two poems, “Paper Mill, Macon” and “I watched you disappear.”
Such beautiful, raw energy in these poems that hasn’t let go of me yet.
The more I thought about the poems, the more I longed to be in the audience, listening to this artist share her work. The Fella was more than willing to hang out with the littles, so I hopped in the vehicle and went. Not a whole of lot planning happened beforehand which is probably the only reason it was able to happen.
My girl and I met for supper with her best friend and her parents. Two words. Fish tacos.
For the love.
We bundled up in the cold and made the five-minute trek over to Taylor Amphitheater where the poetry reading was to be held.
I’ve sat in that room many times over the years, but last night topped it.
Anya Silver is a weaver of words. She writes about the raw emotion that comes with a cancer diagnosis and about what it’s like as a Mama loving her child. The poem about her son’s legs…..beautiful and delightful. And I completely got it.
What impressed me perhaps even more than her writing and her easy reading of it was her grace. One young woman in the audience asked a question that had just been asked a few minutes ago. Without ever making the person questioning feel uncomfortable or any of the rest of us for that matter, Dr. Silver answered it again briefly and then delved into a little more in-depth thought on the subject.
After she finished reading, Dr. Silver graciously met with people who wanted to purchase books or have their books signed or just visit for a few minutes. I wound up toward the end of the line, and while my mind was starting to wander back to the Fella and my littles and their getting ready for bed routine (okay, I was missing them), I wanted to stand in that line and meet this woman who could elicit such emotion from me with her words.
Her and Miranda Lambert.
The lady in front of me did not have children to go home to. She was elderly, and from her conversation with the poet I wondered if she were going home to an empty house where the only sound would be the sound of her own feet brushing the floor with each step, where the only fire she’d warm herself by standing close to would be one she made herself. I wondered who listened to her stories when she was sitting in her home, presumably alone.
I hope she has a dog. Or a cat. Because she had such good stories.
She carried on a conversation such that I thought they’d met before and were good friends, but eventually I figured out that was not the case.
And again I was struck by the kindness and grace of the one signing the books.
When we moved up to meet her, sitting there next to her little guy, 10, who was reading an Encylopedia of Presidents that Cooter would have loved to peruse, I introduced myself and Auburn.
I too launched into sharing a bit of my story, our story.
On the way home, I laughed at myself. I had done just what the precious lady in front of me had done. Carried on a conversation as though we were old friends.
And I wondered, do we feel the need to do that because she has just shared some intimate and deep and personal stories about herself? Now we want to do that as well? Or was it that her stories took us to a place where we were comfortable with her and comforted by sharing our own?
I don’t know. But it happened.
She answered my questions graciously, and I know some of the answers will change me as a writer. As a writer of poetry too.
But I left there with one question unanswered. How do you write the raw and broken so well and be okay with putting all of that into words and putting it Out. There. ?
Because I have some thoughts that long to come out, but I’m not ready to open that Pandora’s box yet.
It’s just too much.
Last night was an amazing evening. And while I missed the rest of the crew, it was absolutely one of those moments I will pull back out and thumb through over and over again when the nights are long and cold and dark. There was so much light in this experience–and sitting there next to my girl at OUR alma mater, listening to stories that resonated with us both…..
Tonight I’m thankful for my writerfriend who introduced me to Anya Silver’s poetry. I am thankful that Dr. Silver is willing to share her journey and not pull any punches. We need to hear the truth–I think we even crave it sometimes. I appreciate the Fella’s gift to me of time, and I love my littles for making the evening a good one with their Daddy.
And here’s a note to all my children and any of you who want to listen too:
Whenever you have a chance to hear someone who has created something/anything share about it–GO. Go and listen. Go and taste. Go and sense every wonderful feeling you can. Because that opportunity might not ever roll around again. And seeing the poetry through the eyes of her story that she let us see–that only made the poems more powerful.
More heart wrenchingly beautiful and achingly divine.
Poetry is a beautiful art, and it changed me a bit to go and hear such a gifted writer share her story last night.
It also scared the bejeebies out of me if you want to know the truth.
I have such a long way to go, but the path is filled with beautiful people along the way who are willing to share what they know and what has worked and what didn’t. I just know I want to go down that path.
May you all have someone share their story and it lead you down the path of where you are supposed to go. And may you come across a poem that takes your breath away or makes you laugh or cry or reach out to someone else with love. Or go read an Anya Silver poem and you’ll find yourself doing all of those things.
Love to all.