If you’ve ever written on a theme or following a prompt for ten minutes or so you may have realized that your internal editor doesn’t have a chance to jump in. You just go for it as you don’t have much time to ponder and critique as you tap into your own wisdom. And perhaps there are guides who come to assist in those “tapping-into” moments as well.
We write short poems at poetry retreats I’ve gone to for years while we sit in the morning circle together. In November 2016, at a retreat with poet Lorna Crozier at Honeymoon Bay Lodge, her prompt to us was “Advice for a Poet.” I wanted to share a few of the pieces that emerged one morning. (The poets’ bios are at the end of the blog.)
My friend and fellow poet Liz McNally starts us off with her “Advice for a Poet.” Liz organizes the Patrick Lane and Lorna Crozier retreats, gathering the poets, arranging for our accommodation and meals and so many other details so that our time at Honeymoon Bay Lodge goes smoothly and the time is dedicated for poet muses to conspire.
You must be willing to look as Annie did
at Pilgrim Creek; that close, that attentive,
near enough to suspend the belief you knew anything,
the moment before you knelt down.
Leave your own eyes aside,
look through the kaleidoscope of a five-eyed house fly,
land that lightly on the familiar, the unseen, the holy.
Dip one – no, all your fingers,
into the wound you thought was healed, yours and the whole world’s.
Here’s “Advice for a Poet” from another poet friend, Tina Biello, who lives in Nanoose Bay and hosts poetry retreats at her home called Annie’s Acre.
Don’t bring an umbrella when it rains.
In fact, leave your jacket at home too.
Walk, march, dance and jump your way
through pot holes so deep
your new boots
are now sullied and drenched.
Find the path beside the creek,
listen for the salmon.
They are remembering their way home.
And here’s the advice that came my way during those few minutes as we tapped into “advice for a poet.” The circle offers a special alchemy as well with nineteen other poets putting pen to paper at the same time.
Rise slowly. See the condensation
on your window. Draw a door
with your finger. Walk through into
wonder. If there’s fog, taste what’s up
close. Listen to your own heartbeat.
Count the droplets on the salal.
-Mary Ann Moore
Liz McNally lives in Richmond, BC, on the edge of a cranberry field. Her passion in poetry is to look closely at the ordinary to find the extraordinary. This is especially true of the fine characters she is fortunate enough to encounter on trains, street corners and other unlikely places.
Tina Biello is Nanaimo’s Poet Laureate, beginning a three-year term in 2017. She grew up in a small logging town, Lake Cowichan, BC and studied Theatre at UBC. Her first full-length book of poetry was In the Bone Cracks of the Walls (Leaf Press, 2014) along with an Italian version, Nelle fenditure profonde delle mura, translated by Ada Donati. Her third book of poetry, A Housecoat Remains, was published in 2015 by Guernica Press.
Mary Ann Moore finds great delight in writing in community and having the ability to witness and share the gems that result.