I was back in the Bikram yoga hot box last night and it felt amazing. I was able to balance on my ankle with greater ease than I thought I would be able to handle. The class was very challenging but gratitude for my body's healing and recovery carried me. While we were deep into a posture called Dandayamana-Dhanurasana (Standing Bow Pose or Dancer's Pose) the teacher said, "The mind is the master of the body. The breath is the master of the mind." In yoga, we learn to breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth. Your breath calms your whole nervous system.
Yesterday afternoon, I had the opportunity to meet with a writer/teacher named Sally Dawidoff. She's a lovely friend of a friend who I met at a party on Saturday night and when I discovered she is published with an MFA in poetry from Columbia University, I asked her if she'd be willing to take a look at my writing. Not only did she say Yes, but she took the time to meet me in person yesterday in Central Park to go over my work. I've got to tell you that it was a little bit surreal for me. Almost like having my palm read. You see that, really? That's what this line means to you? We met at dusk near the Group of Bears statue just inside the 79th Street entrance. At first, I imagined that we were two Beat poets just hangin' out, man, until that image was broken by the realization I forgot my journal and would need to pull up my work on my iPhone. Good thing Sally printed a copy of my writing and brought a pencil.
I have a capacity for emotional recall and while we were going over my writing, I could feel what went into each sentence. I remembered the way the weather was when I wrote them (What is a Memory was on a chilly day with snow falling and my heart hurting over a man and a string of incomplete relationships), what I was going through and how the poems helped me find my way through my emotions. From the standpoint of craft, there is plenty to learn and I'm actually excited to read more poems and deepen my understanding of the fundamentals (so I can break the rules!), however, what I realized is most important about my work is how much my poems and all my writing, really, are my way of working through what's going on in my life. It doesn't matter so much how it's being evaluated because I write out of necessity.
I am getting a lot of emails from my readers (yes, keep them coming!) and a consistent theme is a desire to have a greater ease and ability to express and feel feelings. Guess what? It comes with practice. Practice, practice, practice! You don't have to set up a blog and blast your emotional life into cyberspace -- who would do that, sheesh -- because Duane Reade is having a sale on notebooks and you can get a spiral for $3. Just give yourself the gift of trying to get underneath and wake up your soul...
I love this poem by Beat poet Joanne Kyger:
Morning is such a welcome time. It doesn't demand
much from the pocket- Some coffee, a cigarette,
and the day starts, full of optimism & clarity of hope
While the Muse holds her head, and the crazy Elementals
hold down their wrath
lightly under the earth's surface.
Some vague attention
of wind stirs the golden oats
and Ita Siamese drags her breakfast rabbit over
the roof three
times into the house and escorted out
the door. While Aram Saroyan & W.S. Merwin
debate the paucity of their fathers' feelings
in New York Times reviews,
coming down the pathway still
are my startled guests as this morning proceeds normally
By: Joanne Kyger reprinted from Just Space: poems, 1979-1989, Black Sparrow Press, 1991