This has been a weekend full of playdates and post-birthday party celebrations for my son, including a sleepover for 8 kids. (Eight kids? What was I thinking? Only two are mine!) I know at some point I said to myself, "I run an annual poetry festival for 1,500 people. I can handle 8 kids for one night ..." Yeah, right. But on a weekend when I didn't expect any time for poetry, I am reminded of poetry's reach.
Through Twitter, I connected with Sebastian Matthews (@SebMatth) this past week. He is the son William Matthews and a fine poet in his own right. I studied with Bill at NYU about a year before he died, so it was nice for me to connect the past with the present. And in a random act of kindness, Sebastian sent me a copy of his father's uncollected poems, New Hope for The Dead: Uncollected Matthews, which he edited with Stanley Plumly. He also sent me a copy of his latest collection, Miracle Day: Mid-life Songs.
I will definitely set aside a few moments today to read both collections--I think they are what got me through the weekend. Just knowing I had these glorious books waiting for me was the light at the end of a long, sleepless tunnel. This afternoon, when I am grading poems for my poetry and creative writing classes, I know I will be thinking about Bill grading my rough (read: bad) poems all those years ago. My students are better writers than I was back them. I'm sure I still have poems with his handwritten comments on them somewhere in my basement. Maybe I'll get a few moments to write poems today, too.
As my day begins, it is Sebastian's words that are with me. From "Ars Poetica Blues":
Writing a poem is like making a paper airplane: one morning
you wake up with this urge to build something light, that might fly.