This site is an outgrowth of my first site: http://1sojournal.wordpress.com/
On that site, you can and will find a great deal of personal information about the individual, Elizabeth. This site will be dedicated to Poetry and other music that has informed, shaped, and created much of the world in which I exist.
Poetry is many things. It is whatever the individual wants or makes it to be. There was a time in my life when Poetry lived behind the stone walls of a locked cloister, as far as I was concerned. I couldn’t get into that locked space and truly didn’t understand it or its attraction. That was an extreme frustration because I loved language, words, and music. It should have been a natural, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get through that locked gate. After banging my head against those stone walls, I finally gave up and simply walked away, accepting that although this was home for many, I could and would never belong.
Then, one day, a gentle soft-spoken man named Donald Kummings, opened that gate, smiled at me and asked, “Would you like to come in?” Oh, there was a moment of hesitation, but then I almost trampled him to get inside this place I had never thought to enter. I was almost forty years old, and I had given up hope a long time ago. My only thought was that if this was a fluke of some sort, at least I’d get inside, get a glimpse, maybe catch some understanding in the process, and maybe finally know why I didn’t belong here and could never fit in.
I have never truly left that cloistered place. Something happened that day and its very hard to explain. I got stopped dead in my tracks. I swear it was something in the air, moving invisibly all around me. That same man, who was my College Instructor, and would eventually become my advisor and mentor, handed me a book and I was gone. Propelled into another world, full of sounds and images that tickled at my senses. I read the book from cover to cover and then back again. It spoke to me.
No, I didn’t miraculously understand. I still remained totally ignorant of poetry, but I was picking up the emotions of the individual who had laid down the words that danced across those pages. Her name was Sharon Olds, and I felt like she and I had just had an extremely intimate conversation, and she was waiting for some sort of response from me. I went directly to the campus bookstore and bought the first of innumerable notebooks in which I would first write down my response to her, then to the rest of my life.
In the time it took me to read through those pages of her poetry, I had developed a deep need to speak back in that language I had found inside of her work. I didn’t know a thing about poetics, meter, beats, iambic pentameter, form and structure, spacing, breath lines, or any of the rest of it. I just knew that I felt something, something I had never felt before while reading someone else’s words. It was as though I had somehow picked up all of her emotions by osmosis, by simply coming in contact with the simple words she used. And I desperately needed to do the same.
I did just that. And for most of the rest of my college career, could be found with a pen in my hand and a sheet of notepaper in front of me. Several things happened in rapid succession that simply put, drove me deeper into poetry than I could have ever dreamed possible. One of those first attempts to respond to Sharon Olds in her language, won first place in the first poetry contest held on that University campus.
Dr. Kummings told me later (he was one of the judges for the contest), that when the winner was announced, he laughed so hard he almost fell out of his chair and was incapable of telling his fellow colleagues that this particular student had been in his office two months previously complaining about how she couldn’t read the damned stuff, let alone understand it.
That, in turn, propelled me into every available poetry course offered on that campus until I graduated. And I must make something very clear here. I did not write poetry in order to fulfill some romantic notion of being published. I wrote poetry because it was damned good therapy. I could take any subject, any topic, and write about it, keep it contained between the margins of a single sheet of paper and often write until I found a solution or resolution that allowed me to let go of it. All it took was a cheap notebook, time, and energy. The rewards were astronomical, at least I certainly felt they were.
That is why my poetry falls under the definition of personal poetry, rather than political, classical, philosophical, or any other definition. Personal poetry is sometimes defined as Confessional Poetry because it often affords just that type of release. Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton excelled at it, along with many others. Having been raised in a Catholic household, attending Catholic parochial school until eighth grade, I understood that definition to mean airing one’s dirty laundry in public. It meant telling your sins outside of the confessional where only the priest was privy to those secrets.
Somehow that didn’t stop me. I had to do this thing. I was completely enmeshed in language and words and now, music. Music had always been an integral part of my existence. I called my poems my Soul Songs. Each one, a prayer and most answered, or at least finding focus, direction, or new paths to be explored. That drive continues right to this current and present moment. And it is what you will find on these pages. Not my sins, but my seeking to understand the meaning of my own life.
What a way to begin the New Year!
Am reading a series of books and came across this quote attributed to Goethe, it reminds me of you and what you do better each year:
“The moment one definately commits oneself, then Providence moves as well. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforseen accidents, meetings and material assistance that no one could have dreamed would come their way. Whatever you can do or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.”
You began your journey with courage a while ago, and your journey has enriched us all. Thank you.
Hi Susan, I love the quote, it’s fantastic, and yes that is just how it has seemed to be. I especially like the idea of genius, power, and magic all rolled up together. Even think I have an image that would fit that perfectly. Lol, I do love my coloring, and all the synchronicity. Thank you for being a big part of the journey, am looking forward to more of the same.
Elizabeth an amazing story.
Thanks for sharing this part of yourself with us.
Pamela, amazing? I most often think of my own person as just a bit above the mid-line to mediocre, lol. But, all of the synchronicity that went into the making of my story says something else, and I love it. I often think of a poem as a distilled moment and that my poems are just my notes on the story as it is happening. A bit like Cliff-notes, on occasion. A means of remembering or a cheat sheet for the upcoming final. And oh, there are so many of them. I just found a memory stick (drive), in a drawer in my desk. Plugged it in and found three months worth of a poem a day stretch of writing I had done over three years ago. None of those pieces have ever seen daylight and am thinking I may have to open another site just to see that happen. This one for the new stuff and the prompts, the other one for the new/old stuff. Course when you realize that I’m now 64, that would be a whole lot of notes, wouldn’t it? Anyway, thanks for reading and commenting,
Just now I read your story..inspiring one ..wonderfully and sincerely written…
Thank you very much for sharing..
Sorry, Rashmi, somehow missed this comment from you. I know it happens, but still. Thank you for leaving your words. I do think when we stop to write a piece of our story, there is ever someone out there who needs that piece because it perfectly, in some way, fits into the puzzle of their own. I also believe that is one of our purposes in life: to find our own means of expressing our story. It is what we have to offer.
A wonderful inspiring back story to your life, Libby
Libby, this was the beginning of a whole new existence for me. It profoundly changed the way I saw myself and where I might go, do, and be. Poetry has power, the power of change. That is what I learned back then, and still believe to this day. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment,
Life is a journey bringing changes for growth, meaning, understanding and the nurturing
of one’s soul. Your journey in life has opened unexpected doors for you. Thank you for
Welcome again, and my journey has taken me to many places, but especially to my own soul.
I posted this reply on my own site, but wanted to be sure you saw my reply:
Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on this post….I had read your “about me” and thought the same thing…..which is what drew me to your posts and eventually to Writers Speak. I am grateful for your insights, having traveled this road before me, and to pick up on this journey with you, from here. ~Paula
I’m thrilled to have arrived here, on today’s journey–sounds good, and I’ll be back. You’re also most welcome at my place!
Elizabeth, it occurs to me to wonder if you may have changed your email address from the lilka one and I have lost touch? I have sent emails and not heard back, which isnt like you and I just remembered you have been commenting under a different contact name. I cant find one of your emails to respond to. I wanted to check in with you, and also to let you know you are Blog of the Week at Poets United:) Would you please email me at WildWoman2@shaw.ca ? I want to make sure I have the right email addy for you! Thanks, kiddo.
aloha Elizabeth. seeking, or searching, is one of my long time personal definitions of art. I like that you remain a seeker. aloha.