Hedgewitch(Joy Ann Jones) here, manning, womanning or spiriting the pub tonight, whichever you prefer, and hollering a large ¡Hola! to connoisseurs of the word, pub patrons, passersby and poetic bon vivants. Welcome all to the forty-eighth Open Link Night at dVerse Poets Pub. Here we take our name seriously, especially on Open Link Night. It’s then we want the whole neighborhood to walk in the Open door, Link a poem of their choice on any topic, of any vintage, pull up a stool, talk all Night, share a few laughs, and enjoy the truly dVerse offerings of all sorts of Poets writing on tap at the Pub for our mutual enjoyment.
Many of the recent posts here have been about encouraging community, as that is one of the pub’s primary missions in the online wilderness, where so many talents wander in search of expression. This one is no different, and I’m going to share my own take on the importance of connection tonight by looking very briefly at the life and work of a favorite poet of mine, Emily Dickinson. I identify most strongly with Dickinson for several reasons; her voice as a female poet, her love of nature and the garden which she incorporated into so many of her poems, her many losses and disappointments in love and life, but perhaps foremost her reclusiveness.
We’ve all heard of historic examples of poetic salons and artistic communities such as that of the Lost Generation in 1920’s Paris, where literary giants like Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Pound mingled socially with artists and fellow creators of every stripe. In contrast, Emily Dickinson lived most of her life in extreme isolation. For much of it, particularly the latter part, she never left her own home, or saw anyone outside her own family circle. Yet Dickinson enjoyed a lifelong, extremely important series of literary and personal correspondences, leaving over a thousand letters extant at her death. Along with advice, opinion and support, she often included poetry and pressed flowers in her letters, and there’s no doubt that many of the connections she made influenced and sustained her voluminous writing production of over eight hundred poems over the course of her life.
This ability to connect with like souls without a physical presence is also something I identify with strongly, and feel we encounter here at its best at the pub. Here is the opportunity to get outside the limiting boxes we often inhabit, both as writers and as human beings, and meet those who share our particular artistic kinks, who inspire us to write our best for their eyes, and support us when we stumble or doubt. Without this community, the act of writing would still be important, but so much more one-dimensional, and I thank all our participants here for joining in a forum which fosters everyone’s growth and sustenance. Because the community is so diverse, in all the best ways, there’s an unequaled opportunity to find those who uniquely appreciate and inspire us, and to be supportive, to learn from each other, and to enjoy a decrease in that sense of isolation so many of us have among the larger society which stares at one rather numbly upon hearing the answer to the question, “So what do you do for fun?”… “Write poetry.”
Before we get down to just that, I’ll leave you with two short poems on writing from Dickinson herself, and a few links for those who may want to know more about one of the seminal transitional figures in American poetry.
Here is If it had no pencil, followed by I send Two Sunsets, by Emily Dickinson:
If it had no pencil
If it had no pencil
Would it try mine —
Worn — now — and dull — sweet,
Writing much to thee.
If it had no word,
Would it make the Daisy,
Most as big as I was,
When it plucked me?
I send Two Sunsets
I send Two Sunsets–
Day and I — in competition ran —
I finished Two — and several Stars —
While He — was making One —
His own was ampler — but as I
Was saying to a friend —
Mine — is the more convenient
To Carry in the Hand —
The Poetry Foundation has a lengthy detailed and insightful biography of her here. The Emily Dickinson Museum has an overview of her correspondence here and a voluminous list of her many correspondents can be found at the Emily Dickinson.org wiki.
Alright, now let’s enjoy some of that support and community I’ve been talking about, and remember, however wildly social or reclusive you might be, here you’re among kindred spirits.
If you’re new to the pub, here’s the drill for sharing your work and exploring that of others:
- Link in the poem you’d like to share (1 per blog, please) by clicking on the Mr.Linky button just below.
- This opens a new screen where you’ll enter your information, and where you also choose links to read. Once you have pasted your poem’s blog url and entered your name, simply click submit.
- Don’t forget to let your readers know where you’re linking up and encourage them to participate by including a link to dVerse in your blog post.
- Visit as many other poems as you like, commenting as you see fit. Remember that this is how we connect with those who can support and encourage us, and for whom we provide the same vital benefits.
- Spread the word. Feel free to tweet and share on the social media of your choice.
- Finally, enjoy! Remember, we are here for each other. Engage your fellow poets, talk, chat, comment, let them know their work is being read, and enjoy the input you also will receive. This is all about community.