Thursday, April 30, 2009

Work in Progress: Poem in Your Pocket Day

It’s the last day of National Poetry Month, and today has been designated as the second annual Poem in Your Pocket Day. From the site sponsored by the Academy of American Poets:

"The idea is simple: select a poem you love during National Poetry Month then carry it with you to share with co-workers, family, and friends on April 30, 2009."

You can find a whole list of poems to choose in the site's archives, and it’s interesting to read over the list of the most popular poems from last year, ranging from Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “How Do I Love Thee” to Sylvia Plath’s “Daddy.”

Though today feels more like a “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” kind of day, that’s a little long to fit into my pocket, so given my obsession with villanelles, I’m going to select the always-popular “One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop.

One Art
by Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant to travel.
None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

--Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

As for my plans to celebrate the day: I imagine that having this poem in my pocket---so to speak--will inspire my writing today, helping me focus on the exact word, the small and perfect phrase...reminding me of the power and beauty of language. No big plot problems for today--just tiny moments, patiently building up one by one into a complete and absolute whole.


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.