Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The New Charmed Life: Because Ordinary is the New Extraordinary

I went and saw Marie Howe (What the Living Do: PoemsThe Kingdom of Ordinary Time: PoemsThe Good Thief: Poems )  last night in Seattle.  She was incredible, generous, grounded, and smart.  I could have these traits in all my favorite people, all the time.

Before the reading, I went out to celebrate my finalist status for the Foreword Prize with my co-editor Annette Spaulding-Convy, Ronda Broatch, and Martha Silano to Wild Ginger, one of Seattle's best restaurants. We met up with Jeannine Hall Gailey afterwards.

I think we were also celebrating life.

I must say, with all the terrible one-thing-after-another happening in Japan, I cannot help but look at my small life, my small evening of poetry, a good dinner, friends, and be thankful.  Tragedy does not study geography.  Nature does not pick and choose, and their earthquake could have been our earthquake, your hurricane, someone else's drought.

I will be honest, poetry feels like a luxury.

But it's not for me. It can't be.  Even when the world seems to be falling apart city by city,   writing is still a part of my order.  Still, hearing the stories out of the Japan, I think we need to redefine the term "charmed life."  It is not a flat-screen tv, or getting the job, or buying an iPad because of a surprised check that arrived in the mail.

I think a charmed life needs to be defined as waking up and turning on the hot water to take a shower, drinking coffee, opening your refrigerator to the numerous choices, going to the market, turning on the lights, reading a book, seeing a bird on the porch, opening up your front door and taking a large breath of air.

So, it's not thankful Thursday, but giving thanks again for the small things in life.  For the poets, the poetry, for the robins and mourning doves in the magnolia tree, for the family and friends who are not missing, for the Yoshino cherry tree in my yard preparing to bloom-- I will look it differently this spring, its petals each a hope and a prayer for the country across the sea from us.

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