I woke to the news that Maine has a new Poet Laureate. I own, but can’t put my hands on, one of his books. I had in mind to post one of his poems here this morning, by way of celebration. But I don’t think I’m allowed to do that without permission, so I’ll refer you instead to his website. Click open the book, and you’ll find some of his poems in the “Links” section.
There was a bit of controversy here in Maine when our newly elected governor broke long-standing tradition and opted not to have a poet read at his inauguration. In protest, poets and arts supporters gathered at Longfellow Square in Portland at the same time as the inauguration in Augusta.
So I’m glad our governor isn’t kicking poetry to the curb altogether. The Poet Laureate is a state appointed position, and an important part of our Maine identity (to my mind).
I have a snippet I cut out of a newspaper in 2003 and tucked into my journal. It’s a press release telling about a then-upcoming lecture McNair was doing. The reason I saved this clipping all these years is for a bit of writerly advice it contained. He says:
“Every day life will whisper into your ear some little or large thing that must be done before turning to your poem. Yet next week when your poem is still unwritten, you will not remember why these things were so important, or even what they were. Write your poem.”
(from The Free Press, Rockland ME August 7, 2003)
Now, I haven’t written a line of poetry in a couple years, so clearly I haven’t been heeding Mr. McNair’s advice. Nearly all of my writing has been class directed: discussion posts for online classes, blog posts, and paper after paper after paper. I’m writing daily, and if I’m not writing, then I’m reading in anticipation of the next writing assignment. But no poems.
And really, I’m ok with that. A gal’s got to put down her pen (or step away from her laptop) sometime, right? My very last paper is due May 2 (!) and I trust that I’ll have whole new ideas of things to write once classes (and class assignments) are over. Then I’ll look at this yellow, water-stained bit of newsprint I’ve saved for 8 years, and I’ll see the picture of Wesley McNair with his folded hands and serious eyes, and yes, I’ll write my poem.
(one more McNair link, to a great interview posted just two days before his appointment was announced)