It has been easy to find poets and writers here in my new home. Is it because people who are drawn to live by the beauty of shimmering blue water, hummingbirds, and cherry orchards are also looking for beauty in the words they speak and hear? I am already a part of a monthly writing group and a poetry group, both designed to share and critique each other’s work. Like those childhood piano lessons that kept you practicing, these groups are good motivation for me to keep writing even when I don’t feel like doing so. On top of these monthly meetings, this week I am attending a 5-day poetry class, the second I’ve attended in the five short weeks since I have moved in.
This week’s class is on the grounds of this lovely historic chapel.
The Boynton chapel has a lovely story. Built in the 1930’s and 40’s to resemble a 12-century Scandinavian church, the Boyntons spent nine years building, carving, and painting 100+ hand-painted frescoes inside. Tours are now offered in the summer.
Doesn’t it seem like a holy place?
Next door is the modern conference and retreat center, owned by Lawrence University and used for classes and seminars and workshops like mine. An expansive hall looks onto Lake Michigan.
Beyond the classroom windows are woods that are green, hobbitlike, old.
This morning I wrote a poem about 1) my grandmother, 2) about going shoeless on the beach each summer, and 3) about my African American friends that bear so gracefully the burning weight of racism.
I listened to nine other very talented people use words that made us laugh and cry. I heard their poems of dogs, of Zanzibar, of astrophysics and willow trees. Lee wrote of marriage; Cynthia wrote a rant against chauvinistic male editors; Robin* told of a woman who died in her garden. Judy cannot help in her poems except to come back to her beloved family farm; Paula reads serious poems, then laughs at herself, each time…
Like all things else in this new life, attending a class to write poetry seems indulgent. As if it weren’t enough to live in a beautiful place, even the work I want to do here in this new life (i.e writing) seems to be like coming in to a feast.
*Robin Chapman, our teacher, who because of her wisdom and winsomeness, drew good words from each of us.