The year of 2020 will be remembered for many things in our household. My youngest son celebrated his twenty-first birthday, marking—what he feels is—his sojourn into adulthood, even though he’s still on the family payroll. His elder brother moved over five hundred miles away, tautening the umbilical cord (still on the family payroll). Two of my nieces got engaged, a close family member got sober, we lost a dear friend to cancer, a baby was born. Let us not forget: global pandemic, troubled race relations, cutthroat election year, wildfires out west … Yeah. It’s been, shall we say, a year.
The state of things brings to mind the of the story of the Cellist of Sarajevo. It’s the story of Vedran Smailović, a musician who became famous during the siege of Sarajevo for playing his cello in a Sarajevo square ruined by mortar fire. He played Albinoni’s Adagio in G Minor for twenty-two days to bring attention to the deaths of twenty-two civilians killed there while waiting for food.
Singer/songwriter Sara Groves cites Smailović as an inspiration for some of her music, stating,
“This story became a mobilizing metaphor for me. It is easy to stand at the edge of a crater and talk about its depth and breadth, and who created it, who is at fault. It takes a generative person to get down into that crater and make something, to ask yourself, what would I put here?”
This is what we do when we continue to create in the midst of the hard stuff of life—we are climbing down into the craters—not only creating a protest of beauty, but shifting the narrative to one of hopefulness, asking, “What would I put here?”
There are always ways to make room for delight.
And, even in 2020 there remain moments of delight. One delight of 2020 for me is being named Tweetspeak Poetry’s second Poet Laura. I’m honored to fall in line behind the first ever Poet Laura, Tania Runyan, who is a tough rhyme to follow. As the first “Laura” Poet Laura, I pledge to do my best to stay faithful to the whimsy with which this position was created; a whimsy that draws attention to the power of poetry to change perspective, change people, maybe even change the world. (I was hoping the position was accompanied by a year’s supply of chocolate, but alas, not so. Not yet, anyway.).
Staying dedicated to whimsy in such a strange time is no small task. One might call it counter-cultural. Even revolutionary. The enormity of the task will be mitigated by the Poet Laura Checklist. As Poet Laura I am charged to read a poem every weekday and encourage others to do the same. I’ll be following in my predecessor’s footsteps and (hopefully) reading (and writing?) poetry to chickens, consuming and writing about fair trade chocolate and tea, and planting trees, among other adventurous (look out, moon, here we come!) and glamourous (if Stephen Colbert calls, let me know) pastimes.
Let this be my call to revolution: Poetry shall overcome! I lift the poetry banner high, so that all—be it poultry, human, or alien being—might rally to our cause. Let the coming year usher in all manner of poetic delights. I’m so excited to embark upon this revolution with you!
In the meantime, this might help you get to know me a little better:
A Poem is a Meteor
(inspired by From the Adagia by Wallace Stevens. And life.)
this morning at 5:23, I
rose in the dark, went
out back and lay myself
flat in the sleeping dew to
watch for meteors
it was past peak for the
Orionid showers but
still, I focused my eyes
on the radiant point, just
the damp soaked through
my robe; the French doors, a
frame of light, illuminated
Bonnie, waiting on the stair—
licking paws to pink
above, a glitter-flecked
sky shimmered stories in the
night, as light began to spill
on the horizon. and I, still
and shivering, waiting,
trying to catch a poem.
Photo by michaelleckman, Creative Commons license via Flickr. Post by Laura Boggess.
A Novella From Laura Boggess
Lyrical and whimsical writer Laura Boggess brings us an inspiring story of one woman’s quest to put her life back together. Poetry plays a part. But not before a book gets delivered to the wrong house on a windy, impossible day.