#22. on poetry and slow-ness
there's so much to say
It’s been long. I wrote three different drafts for this edition between October and now, none of which felt right. I have a lot to say about the past five months. Part of me wants to write down every minute feeling I felt, for no other reason but to keep it written down, beat by beat. But I know that if I ventured into it, I’d do a terrible job of it.
So I’ll stick to the shorter but truthful account: I’ve been exhausted. I’ve had ideas, but most of them circled around and left because I had little energy or will to articulate them. Now, after lodging myself in several re-watches and stretches of sitting around, I’m back here again. Hoping to get back to observing, finding joy, and reading more ‘;[o5p0poetry.
It is difficult to explain what poetry does to the soul. The act of taking a break from distress and reading four, or maybe five sentences stacked one after the other – lyrically and passionately, fills me with hope. It always has.
I used to think of myself only as a long-form writer, I felt like I needed plenty of words and sentences to say something, to truly explain myself. And then, this one day I saw a lady stringing jasmines to make a garland and thought – fuck explaining myself to the world. Maybe I just want to slow down, inspect the world, and make notes of all its beauty. So I did, for a while at least.
I took myself on long walks last spring and poetry followed, quite naturally. I didn’t plan on writing anything specific, I was just a child with play-dough – putting word after word. It became a habit to write poetry and reflect on the world. I’d linger at the flower shop, at store-windows, at bakeries and watch from a distance. I’d stand under large rain trees, look up at the sun blinking through. I washed rice for longer and boiled it instead of just pushing it down a pressure cooker and sticking a whistle on top. I mourned for all the plants I killed, and even more for the ones I told myself I’d pot but never did. With poetry a slow-ness entered my life, each moment lasted a little longer – I was able to feel them pass through me.
There’s this passage in Eat Pray Love that I think of often – “But is it such a bad thing to live like this for just a little while? Just for a few months of one's life, is it so awful to travel through time with no greater ambition than to find the next lovely meal? Or to learn how to speak a language for no higher purpose than that it pleases your ear to hear it? Or to nap in a garden, in a patch of sunlight, in the middle of the day, right next to your favorite fountain? And then to do it again the next day?”
I can’t recollect what interrupted my slow-living. Things changed fast – I moved homes, I adopted a cat, I overworked myself all of November and December. I forgot to think, I forgot to journal, I forgot to breathe. I forgot what poetry meant. I’d still try to pick up some of my poetry collections and re-visit my favourite poems, but my body and mind were rushed at all times – incapable of taking registering anything but hurry.
For the past week, I’ve been sitting with my journal; wondering how I lost my words. It's a ritual of sorts I guess – to get derailed and then sit down with yourself and do a character analysis of what went wrong. I had burnt myself out with my work. I know it was not entirely out of choice – sometimes you need to make money, and there is no time for rest, play or curiosity. There was simply no time for poetry, or any kind of writing until mid-January.
I’ve gone off the grid with writing many times – occasionally because I don’t have time; other times because I “genuinely don’t have anything to say,” as I tell my friends. But I can say for sure that the reunion is always delightful. It’s in between moments, when I catch a sentence forming in my head, a thought making its way through. Like muscle memory, my body begins to look for paper and pen, or opens notes app – I know I need to hit pause for a bit, I need to make a note, I need to slow down. I need to to crack my knuckles, make tea, oil my hair, lounge on grass, eat ice-cream, and just write.
The words will come, or so I choose to believe.
Some good things:
Elizebeth Gilbert on Choosing Curiosity Over Fear
Brene Brown on How To Fail
Since this one is about poetry, some poems:
The Cast — Sharon Olds
Power — Audre Lorde
Joy — Clarissa Scott Delaney
Someone Is Writing A Poem — Adrienne Rich
Thank you for reading, really.
Six Impossible Things is a monthly newsletter about art, books, reading, and feelings. You may sign up if you want it delivered to your inbox. You can also come to say hi to me on Instagram @a_catinthesink