Friday Essay – Reading Books, Telling Stories, Writing Poetry

Library BooksSomething very strange has happened … I have been uninterested in reading fiction lately.  It doesn’t make a lot of sense, but I am currently reading two works of non-fiction right now and have no desire to read fiction.  Usually fiction is like candy – quick, simple, sweet – and non-fiction is like dinner – substantial and delicious, but a little more work than fiction.  However, since I’ve started seriously thinking about writing some more substantial poems I’m more inclined to do more substantial reading. One book I’m reading – Reality Is Broken – is really for work.  It’s a fascinating look at games – why people play games, what people learn when they play games and how the lessons learned from games can fix what’s wrong with reality.  I’m not yet finished, but it is seriously cool!  I am writing a poem about Sadako Sasaki – a young victim and survivor of the nuclear attack on Hiroshima in August 1945 – because I was completely taken by her story when I was young.  I picked up a book from the library that seemed a good choice – an historical description of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki – however, I have since learned that the author’s sources and credentials have been questioned.  So, I have to find something else to read.  In any event, this doesn’t change the fact that I am doing research for a poem instead of just pouring my guts on to a piece of paper.  I chose Sadako Sasaki for a couple of reasons: 1) I wrote a number of poems based on her and her thousand paper cranes about a year ago and I’m not quite happy with them; and, 2) her story touched me deeply as a child and I would like to bring that to life for people.  I have been thinking about who I am and why I do what I do – you know, the usual existential stuff.  I realized that I like to tell stories, particularly stories from history that illuminate something important and universal about the human condition.  I went to school for a long time and trained as an historian and have been feeling that is an important method by which to approach my poetry.  I have three stories I have been mulling over for a while now and I have decided to approach the understanding and knowledge building about the subjects from my training in history, then to write the poems in the way I approach poetry – with a sense of awe, wonder and a desire to paint pictures with words.  I hope to have this first poem ready for performance in a month or so, then I’ll move on to my story-poem about the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp and my other one about cruise missile testing in Canada in the 1980s and my first protest rally.  I’m not sure what kind of poetry this will produce, but I have a feeling it will produce poetry that is very much what I want to create.

P.S. I’ve been missing my Poetry Wednesday posts lately, so I may change the format a little – bear with me as I sort myself out!

Be Lovely to Each Other,