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“Don’t scorn your life just because it’s not dramatic, or it’s impoverished, or it looks dull, or it’s workaday. Don’t scorn it. It is where poetry is taking place if you’ve got the sensitivity to see it, if your eyes are open.”

Philip Levine, describing what he learned from William Carlos Williams

NPR aired a story this morning about Philip Levine, who died this last weekend at 87. As I heard listened to the story, I re-opened my eyes on my drive to work. Here are just a few of the things I saw:

A big red garage door, vanity on long beige metal building

A license plate that read HUG after the numbers – did they do that on purpose?  or lucky?

The cars driving around me, their shiny colors muted by dried salt and grime

Three men statued on the sidewalk in front of the building, heads bent over their phones as I walked by -They’re missing stuff! What if I had been young and pretty?

Read or listen to the full story here: http://www.npr.org/2015/02/15/384096472/philip-levine-who-found-poetry-on-detroits-assembly-lines-dies-at-87 . Then go notice something.

 

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I’ve started reading the entire Emily Dickinson collection of poetry. A few poems each morning and a few each night make a poetic meditation practice of sorts. A few poems a day allow me the time to analyze each poem and dig into her unusual syntax.

Observations so far: She writes so much about nature, reading her poems in nature is nearly overwhelming.  She uses a lot of exclamation points.  She uses Yoda-syntax, i.e., “afraid you are, young Jedi.”  It’s really hard to get “The Yellow Rose of Texas” rhythms out of your head when you read her.  Thanks, Billy Collins and NPR.

NPR did a story recently called Six Word Memoirs. based on an exercise that turned into the book, Not Quite What I Was Planning, by Larry Smith. The excerpts provided by NPR are terrific, although none have quite the poignancy of the catalyst, Ernest Hemingway’s, “For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

So, sitting in the looming shadow of a writer as skilled as Hemingway, I wrote my own:
Reluncantly less redhead, deliberately less read-head.