It is spring of 2017 CE, and, when I am not devastated by the national and international news, I am snared by questions.
I used to be a poet. I still am, but it’s different than it used to be. In the book of shadows and recipes I keep, I find this brief entry: “Poetry is no longer the thing. It is one important thing in this wild, good life.” Those words are dated January 2016. A recipe for Banana Pancakes on the facing page and on the next page after that I penned a note to myself that David Bowie died.
This quote from him stays close to me:
If you feel safe in the area you’re working in, you’re not working in the right area. Always go a little further into the water than you feel you’re capable of being in. Go a little bit out of your depth. And when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.
In other words, go to the place where you are snared by questions. I used to be a poet. I still am, but it’s different. The passion I feel for poems has not changed. I teach poetry classes here and there. I edit and shape manuscripts for people. In my work as the owner of Odonata, I run classes and retreats, and work one on one, helping people identify and live into their passion (whether for poems or for something else). As I am living mine. Currently I’m passionate about questions. Did I say that?
I know we each have our own best answers, locked away inside, and it only needs a little prodding (and a lot of courage) to unloose them into the world and effect change. The further I go, the more I feel my job is to create spaces for a person to discover her own knowledge and best instincts. We have largely lost the art of listening to our intuition. Who takes the time? Who silences the noise long enough? Maybe this is one of poetry’s gifts to us, in the 21st century.
Because poetry, my first love, my oldest home, is a wild thing, refusing to be tamed or framed. As much as any of the arts, poetry resists the marketplace, insisting on the primacy and unpredictability of gift. Through the experience of a poem, our sense of time is altered, our sense of breath and movement of the body temporarily shifts as we read the words of another. Poetry tunes us to metaphor, which is as close as most of us get these days to being attuned to messages from the non-human world. Poetry cracks us open. In a way that I don’t yet understand a poem is very like a question. More than the teacher, it is the poem that teaches us.
Sarah Sadie helps people connect to their creativity and to each other. She teaches classes, works with people one on one, and hosts occasional retreats. Combining interests in embodied spirituality, creativity, the wisdom of the body, and the power of art, she seeks out makers, dreamers, and anyone interested in a good cup of coffee and conversation.
The theme of teaching and learning poetry, and our emphasis on student poets, speaks directly to the action of poetry in our country and global community. Never has the education of our students been so threatened, and never has truth been more challenged than in the current political climate. The truth emerges through education and the resistance and questions of our youngest generation, and it is their lead we absolutely must follow if they are to live in a society that fosters their achievements, liberation, and justice. Truth emerges through poetry as well — poetry bears witness to what truths seem impossible to speak any other way. Its constraints limit the temptation to misconstrue, obscure, and bury.