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Joanne the Poet - The Poetry of Joanne M. Clarkson

Post for National Poetry Month, April 2019: Door into the Poem

DOne of the forms of meditation I practice uses sequences of ascension to get to a plain that represents the higher self. Once in this dimly illumined world, I am usually met by a benevolent companion who leads me down a path to some sort of dwelling or building.  I have been in cabins and igloos and tents and palaces and domes meant for worship.

To enter, as with all structures, we must pass through a door. The doorways are even more varied than the places themselves. This is the moment the soul has been tending toward. A passage. A commitment to an intimacy that will affect deep enlightenment and create wholeness.

I like to do the same thing when I write a poem. To write at my best, I need to get into my ‘poetry mind.’ I do this by reading other poets. Right now I am into Tomas Transtromer, Swedish poet who won the Nobel, especially Robert Bly’s translations. I try to get into the flow of his creative intensity. It’s catching. I go into the individual weighty words, into the lines, deep into the images, into the moments and finally into the whole world of the poem.

From there, with this poet as my guide, I proceed down the trail to the home of my own poem. Sometimes there are echoes of the just-read work. Other times my poem is totally different. At a certain point, I face the door whether it is wooden or painted red or blue. Maybe is it a just a curtain. Once a huge stone I needed to shoulder away.

The inside of the structure might well look familiar to me, rooms from my childhood or a schoolroom. I have walked through the house out into the woods or seashore. The people inside may or may not acknowledge me. My grandmother is often there or someone I cared for on Hospice. It is not rare for me to meet an aspect of myself.

The words I need come easily, each object speaking its own name. The situation describing itself. The dwelling’s creaks and clatters. I note it all down as best I can, a scribe who also plays a part.

I sense when it is time to leave, when I have absorbed as much as I can use. In a gentle instant I am back at my desk with a draft before me. There is lots of work ahead, but the experience of writing has been both calming and exhilarating. At a distance the door stays open. I thank my guides and Muses and all who reside within.

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