Thursday, June 9, 2011

Listening to Motion

Last night, I walked into the University of York to hear a reading given by previous UK Poet Laureate Andrew Motion. Jennifer had reserved a ticket for me to attend the reading, and as I walked in, I felt a fun poetic thrill travel around my head and shoulders.

Okay, it could have been that I was getting a little itchy given I was walkign so fast, rushing to make an evening of calm poetry.

Or it could have been that a totally-adult activity, during which no one in the audience or Motion himself, I could be sure, would ask if somebody had to do poops on the pot, or wanted to go do some swing high! at the local playground.

(But I still think it was predominantly the poetic thrill stuff. After all, poetry was my doorway into writing--my first love of words and the thing that continualloy brings me back to why I keep loving words.)

The auditorium at the Ron Cooke Hub at Heslington East campus (read: really coolm super-sweet state-of-the-art facility with loads of modern looking wood structures) was packed. As Motion began reading poems about conflict, war, and then from the voice of a great Blue Whale, I feel into that kind of reverioe  where you're thinking and listening at the same time.

During the Q & A, someone asked him about his goals for his poems, and Motion shared a powerful line which I'm unlikely to forget: "I want my poems to look like water and taste like gin."  he shared about how simplicity, for him, rules the day, and yet he wants there to be emotional complexity and truth in his work. I found the line insightfully inspiring.

Afterwards, there was a row of computer son the balcony of the building, and I logged onto one, opened up a novel I'd recently started, and began writing. When I stopped, the sky had grown dim, and I made the long walk home to my love.

In his book Writing from the Inside Out, Dennis Palumbo says that "writing begets writing." In other words, the more we write, the more we'll keep writing. We get into a habit. It becomes a way of life. I find the rule of thumb to be powerfully true. And, I'd add, the more we hear and read what others have written, engaging outselves with themes and ideas that become universal through the very small spaces of our own experience, the more we crave to create, too.

Thank you Jennifer, for the gift of a beautiful night of poetry. And thanks, Mr. Motion, for the words that call forth more words.