Wednesday, February 08, 2006

I'm not sure how I feel about this

Lately I don't feel as if I have enough time to write. There's just too much else going on right now, though I know that writing, like exercise, will make me feel better. (See here for a much more thoughtful post on this.)

Another thing I don't have much time for is reading poetry, but I subscribed to the e-mail version of Garrison Keillor's "Writer's Almanac" a while ago, and it pops up in my inbox (or, lately, my junk mail filter, but that's another whole issue) and poetry presents itself to me every now and then.

Today, according to Keillor, is Elizabeth Bishop's birthday. I studied Bishop in a grad school survey class; I'm hardly an expert, but I've always liked her work. One year I taught some of her poems in a first year course.

One of my favorite of her poems is "One Art," which begins: "The art of losing isn't hard to master." It's a poignant, beautifully wrought little poem; a modified villanelle that retrieves its rhyme words, obsessively, as it comments on losing larger and greater things.

So here's what I learned from Keillor this morning: "She worked on her poem "One Art" for more than fifteen years, keeping it tacked up on her wall so that she could rearrange the lines again and again until she got it right."

She did get it right. Fifteen years, though! I'm definitely still in the minor leagues.


Wormwood's Doxy said...

I check in at every day---they have a Poem of the Day and I get my fix.

I hadn't read the Bishop poem---but since I spent 1.5 hours yesterday in a frantic (and ultimately successful) hunt for my car keys, it really hit home!

Susan said...

Thank you for that "One Art." It's a good one.