POET'S CORNER by Jeff Hartzer
#025: June, 2006
Poetry is dead this month, as the summertime tightens fishing lines and water sking ropes that pull us through lakes and streams where poetry LIVES in our bodies and minds and doesn’t need to get written down. Summer is a time for letting the seeds sown in the spring grow and blossom, occasionally withering in the heat, yearning for water, and then coming back to life when the rains (or the sprinklers) bless them with the liquid of life. Let your poetry mature inside you now; harvest it to paper or cyberspace in the fall.
So enjoy the heat, dry as it is. The Navajos are saying this is the Last Year of the Drought here in the Southwest. If that’s true, then there will be a lot of work ahead. Where there is plenty there is the responsibility to use it wisely, evenly. Share the wealth and put some aside for the changing times. The one thing you can count on is change. The drought may end soon, but for how long? Can we strike a balance between generosity and stinginess in the best of times as well as the worst?
As a poet or writer, sometimes you have to keep it in, let it sit a while, and sometimes you have to let it all out. It will balance out as long as you occasionally take time to see the big picture. Our kids are right now jumping up and down screaming, “School’s out for the summer. School’s out forever.” But school is never “out forever.” Every single day is a session in life's classroom. Some of the lessons are hard, painful, sorrowful. Some are joyful. A lot are boring and tedious. But they are all important and part of Life’s Truth. Soak it all in and when you’re ready, when it’s ripe, then you can let some of it out and maybe help another soul or two with their life schooling.
I know you’re tired and want to just sit in the sun and gamble with skin cancer and just let it all go. We’re all tired. But the question is, when have you rested enough and when do you need to get moving? Balance is a tricky thing. The fitness people will tell you that spending energy will give you more energy. That’s true. But it is also true that one can go too far and experience an injury and then have to rest. See if you can find a balance this summer in work and play and rest. As Ringo Starr sings, “You know, it don’t come easy.” But what else are you going to do? This is no time to give up.
You need to be true to yourself and your energies. Spend time this summer looking into who you are. Your personal history can be a fertile source of poetic material for years to come. Writing is as much research as it is actual writing and sometimes your life and family and community are deep wells of images and feelings and truths and unique happenings. The South Valley is full of so much beauty and uniqueness, even if our South Valley land here and there is selling as “West Side” property. Don’t let the rich history of our valley be lost in marketing labels. Spend the summer exploring what you take for granted and then let it burst forth at harvest time or with the monsoons we so pray will come.
And now is a good time to read what others have written. Seek variety in your summer reading. Compare other writing styles with your own “voice” and see if all this gathered experience can help you deepen and embrace that voice. You might find ways to improve or you might find you like yourself just as you are. It’s OK to be happy. It is summer, after all. Now is a good time to take it all in. Break out the SPF 447 and slather it on and go on a summer adventure of right here and now. Soon the drought will be over.
Jeff Hartzer copyright 2006