Slain by a Poem

Version 2 On the very day Saved by a Poem was finally published (after five years of rewrites!) a dear friend said, “But it’s got the wrong title! It’s should be called SLAIN by a poem, not Saved by a Poem!” She was absolutely right. A central summons in my work is to let yourself be slain by the poem, whether you are reading it on the page, speaking it aloud, or hearing it: let those tears or that gust of laughter break open the cage of your personality, let that involuntary sob turn your quiet voice into a wail or a whimper; fall into that velvet silence between you and whoever is with you in the precious awkwardness of not knowing what to say in the wake of a poem that has hit it’s mark. 

Every time I speak a poem, no matter how many times I’ve said it before, something in me is slain. I never know exactly what it will be. All I know is that I don’t know, and won’t know until I give myself to the poem and, as D.H. Lawrence writes, “am borrowed by the fine, fine wind that takes it’s course through the chaos of the world.” As the poem moves through my being, it magnetizes aspects of myself I have never met before, it burns off elements of my defenses and personality I no longer need – no matter how much I might think I do! It demands intimacy — that I meet it, meet myself, meet the communion with whoever might be listening — in naked presence. 

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