I wanted to share a few lines from poet Diane Wakoski that do a wonderful job of explaining what poetry has always meant to me. And honestly, I can’t believe I’ve never read this before last night, but with the advent of Covid-19, I have found myself reading more poetry than I typically do (more of everything actually), so I pulled out an old anthology of poems published in 1968 (the year before I started college) and looked through it to see what I could remember from those days. Wakoski was certainly one of my favorites from that time, and I enjoyed reading the poems of hers that had been selected for the anthology.
But at the end of her verse selections, I kept reading through her credits (which I never had done before), and the editor (Paul Carroll) had included this: “Of her poetics she has written in “Poet at the Carpenter’s Bench”:
the poet is a passionate man
who lives quietly
knowing very well what he wants. It is love,
some formation thereof, a small rock
that he can carve all his life,
perhaps a house he can build with his own hands,
or one he can live in and shape around his body, as a crab will
or a snail; he wants only one sense,
of love, of laying his eyes on the surface of the world
and seeing underneath, of love,
of all changes all different roads leading to the same thing
of love that never goes away
without coming back.
I can’t think of any other poet who has described so clearly what led me to poetry and has kept me writing it all these long years. I’m looking for a mystical connection here, so I’ve decided that it’s meaningful that this anthology was published in ’68, and I am now reading it at the age of 68.
In the end… it’s always about love. So cool.