People sometimes think of poets as inward-turned beings, who sit in small rooms while scanning even more interior terrains–emotion recollected in tranquility (or rage); stories personal, metaphorical, or philosophical; thickets of wild invention; a felt sense of history and its grip on our always-shared fates; memory mixed with desire. This image of literary garret isn’t entirely untrue: when writing, a poet is a solitude accompanied by ink. And yet, any creative expression draws from the world and leads outward, back into the world. We live, think, feel, weigh, sing, in a world-web of others.
And so, it’s no surprise that the Japanese haiku poet Basho, even during his final illness in 1694, might wonder about his neighbor’s fate:
how is he doing?
Or that Francis of Assisi would write in his thirteenth-century “Canticle of the Sun” of “Brother Sun,” “Brother Fire,” “Sister Moon,” “Sister Water.” Whatever enters into a poem is family, is relation.
A writer, however seemingly solitary, is one autumn leaf among others, one branch and tree among others–and so here, gazing in delight at Robert Frost’s yellowing-leaved New England birches, is Basho; here, Francis; here, Lucille, Langston, Emily, Elizabeth, Walt….
October, when the Poets Forum takes place in New York City, is a month of radiant colors, as the Poets Forum itself is an event of radiant words. Poets Forum is a time for conversation and listening, for finding out just how our neighbors are doing amid the great and general leaf fall. Please come join us this October 24 to October 26 for this multi-day celebration of poems, this sound-feast and thought-feast of a community that lives and looks and wanders and speaks beyond every boundary.
Mill Valley, California
Academy of American Poets